Make Ahead

Grandma's Molasses Cookies

December 16, 2014
Author Notes

These are not the molasses cookies you are thinking of. They are a rolled dough cookie that stay tender after baking. They are a family favorite passed down from my great grandmother, Anna Schwartz nee Schmidt, so they are likely German in origin. This is the one recipe I really won't tinker with. My dad's mother handed the recipe down with a couple of omissions, so when my mom first made them they didn't taste quite right. My mom sleuthed the full recipe out by watching my grandma make them -- grandma used half lard instead of all Crisco and used coffee instead of water. The other big key to these cookies is using the strongest blackstrap molasses you can find. Grandma would get hers at a local co-op. I find Plantation to be the best variety for making the cookies taste "right". Fair warning: If you're not a fan of molasses flavor, you will not be a fan of these cookies. —hardlikearmour

  • Makes a lot o' cookies (depending on cookie cutters)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 cup lard
  • 1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 3/4 cup blackstrap molasses
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup coffee
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional if needed
In This Recipe
  1. Cream the vegetable shortening, lard, and brown sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Mix in the rest of the wet ingredients.
  2. Whisk dry ingredients together in a medium bowl, then gradually mix in to the wet ingredients (about a third at a time). The dough should be slightly stiff, so add up to an additional 1/2 cup of flour if needed. Chill for several hours.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350º F, with racks in the upper and lower middle positions. Roll out the dough on lightly floured surface or between 2 layers of parchment to 1/4-inch thickness. The less flour you use for rolling, the more tender the cookies will be.
  4. Cut into desired shapes and transfer to cookie sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack. Sprinkle with sugar while warm or allow to cool and frost with American buttercream or royal icing as desired. (My grandma would top some with sugar, and some with frosting. We would commonly decorate them as a family for Christmas.)

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I am an amateur baker and cake decorator. I enjoy cooking, as well as eating and feeding others. I live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with my husband and our menagerie. I enjoy outdoor activities including hiking, mushroom hunting, tide pooling, beach combing, and snowboarding.