Smoky Cardamom Ginger-Molasses Cookies

December  3, 2014

To ready ourselves for gift-giving (and cookie-eating) season, we've declared this week Cookie Week. We'll share recipes and tips about cookies of all kinds, be they spicy or chocolate-y, chewy or crunchy, round or square. Mix up some dough and join us.

Today: Carey Nershi of Reclaiming Provincial tells a sad story about a lost cookie recipe. But wait! There's a happy ending (and yes, it involves a great cookie).

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I had an amazing ginger-molasses cookie recipe years ago. And then I lost it. In attempt to find something that measured up, I’ve made so many other recipes, but the results have been underwhelming. (I even accidentally made a batch of the exact same disappointing cookies twice, not realizing I’d tried out that very recipe a year earlier. That was a bad day.) But then, I found this recipe, and it was basically perfection. A couple tweaks and my new favorite cookie recipe was born.

If you're looking for a crisp-on-the-outside, chewy-on-the-inside wintery cookie with a little extra something, look no further. Infusing the butter with black cardamom pods takes things to the next level, giving the cookies a hint of savoriness. (Think bacon fat cookies, but vegetarians can eat these too.) If you can’t find black cardamom or would rather skip it, reduce the butter by 2 tablespoons and add 1/4 teaspoon of ground cardamom instead; they will still be absolutely delicious.

Smoky Cardamom Ginger-Molasses Cookies

Makes 2 dozen cookies

14 tablespoons butter
5 black cardamom pods
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
1 cup bread flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup sugar (for rolling)

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photo by Carey Nershi

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Lover of simple food and cocktails served with a single giant ice cube. Raised in the NY Schoharie Valley; currently residing in Burlington, VT. Blogger at


LobsterBrieAvocadoBreath December 14, 2014
TheDoughHouse---Definitely bring these. I made the cream cheese frosting from the Ginger Molasses cake recipe here on food52, and my office and boys loved with and without the frosting. Don't overcook them---though even then...they were adored.
Sam W. December 14, 2014
Oh so excited to come across this recipe, I've been charged with bringing spicy cookies to my sister's Christmas party and black cardamom and pepper will be quite unexpected. I'll let you know how they turn out!
nelll December 10, 2014
Hi, these look absolutely delicious! I have a couple of questions: molasses is hard to come by where I live, would muscavado be a suitable substitute? Also, I want to make a large bath of these for Christmas, do the dough and/or cookies freeze well? Cardamom is just about my favourite spice ever, so I am unbelievably excited to give these a try! Thanks for sharing!!
These are sumptuous! My cookies turned out much flatter than the picture, though, so I wonder why? Not chilled long enough? Doubled the recipe? Too big? We had to slap ourselves to keep from eating the dough! I used green pods. I will run out for black next though, because I want to know the difference! My boys love these!
Carey N. December 6, 2014
So glad you guys enjoyed them! (I am totally guilty of eating a frightening amount of the dough every time I make these.) Re: the flatness, it could be that they weren't chilled long enough. Also, too much butter could yield flatter cookies, so if you have a kitchen scale it might help to weigh the butter after you have infused it, discarded the pods, and transferred it to a mixing bowl. (You want to end up with around 6 oz. of butter. I find I usually lose ~2 tbsp during heating and transferring from the pan to the bowl, but this might not be the case for everyone.)
Sue M. December 4, 2014
I even have black cardamom pods in the spice cabinet!
I have green cardamom...and I just adore it. Can I use it instead of black/brown?
Carey N. December 4, 2014
Definitely. They won't impart the same smoky flavor as the black cardamom, but they'll be great otherwise. If you infuse the butter with the leftover green cardamom pods, let me know how they turn out! I've only used the black for these cookies so far, but I bet the green pods would give them a really great flavor as well.
Lindsay-Jean H. December 3, 2014
These cookies are so incredible. I made them for a dessert buffet recently, and they were the first item to completely disappear -- love them.
Carey N. December 3, 2014
Awesome! First-to-disappear status makes me so happy. (Also, I need some dessert buffets in my life, ASAP.)
Kenzi W. December 3, 2014
Dessert buffets?! I second that.