These Cocoa Molasses Spice Cookies are a delicious combination of cocoa, molasses and ginger just as the name implies. It's a wonderfully soft cookie with an additional hint of toffee from the brown and turbinado sugars and a kick of heat from the ground ginger and white pepper. Read on and learn how to make this yummy cookie.
The idea for these cookies came from the Orange Ginger mini-cakes that I prepared for my appearance on season 4 of The Great American Baking Show. Use this link to get the recipe for my Orange Ginger Cake. I figured since the combination of cocoa, molasses and spices tasted good in a cake it would taste just as good in a cookie.
Why This Recipe Works
One tablespoon of ground ginger, along with cinnamon, cloves and white pepper add a nice spicy note to this cookie. The molasses and brown sugar ensure a nice tender and moist cookies. And finally the cookie dough is rolled in turbinado sugar before baking to ensure a nice crackling exterior. This cookie keeps well and is great for sharing with friends and family!
The Cookie Ingredients
There is nothing like the smell of cookies baking in the oven. The combination of these ingredients creates the most wonderful smells:
- All-Purpose Flour. The flour provides the structure and the right amount keeps it from spreading too much.
- Dutch-Processed Cocoa. Dutch-processed cocoa has a higher fat content than natural cocoa and a deeper chocolate flavor.
- Baking Soda. This chemical leavener gives a lift to the cookies and is activated by the acid in the brown sugar and molasses.
- Ground Ginger. The ground ginger is the main flavor in this cookie and this amount brings a little heat to the cookie too.
- Ground Spices. The ground clove, cinnamon, and white pepper complement the ground ginger and cocoa and gives the cookie a well-rounded flavor.
- Unsuphulered Molasses. Provides the major flavor for the cookie and makes it soft.
- Whole Eggs. The eggs provide moisture and structure for the cookie.
- Unsalted Butter. The butter makes the cookies tender and less chewy.
- White and Brown Sugar. The combination of the white and brown sugar along with the baking soda creates the crackles in the cookie along with the soft texture.
The ground ginger and the molasses are the stars of this cookie and the combination of the cocoa and ginger is particularly good. The white pepper is optional, but adds a little extra kick to the cookie.
How to Make the Cookie Dough
Every year I make a Christmas cookie basket for friends and families. It has anywhere from 5-7 different types of cookies and this cookie is one of the newest additions.
I start making my cookie dough right after Thanksgiving and put it in the freezer. For these cookies I scoop them onto a baking sheet in a single layer, freeze them then place them in freezer bags. This technique can be used year-round, so you can have fresh baked cookies anytime. The week before Christmas I bake like crazy and present a bountiful Christmas basket.
Start by measuring out all the ingredients except for the molasses. Measuring all the ingredients is a good way to ensure you haven't forgotten any ingredients and makes the mixing process go faster.
Sift the cocoa. Cocoa almost always has lumps so it is important to sift it to remove the lumps and ensure it combines well with the other ingredients.
Place the flour, sifted cocoa and baking soda in a medium bowl and whisk until these three ingredients are well combined.
Place the butter, brown sugar, white sugar, all the spices, the kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the molasses by measuring it directly into the bowl. The molasses will weigh 242 grams.
Use the paddle attachment to beat these ingredients first on medium-low speed and then on medium-high speed for 4 minutes until the dough is lighter in color and looks fluffy looking. We want to make sure that the sugar is well incorporated. So don't rush this step.
Add the eggs one at a time beating after each addition until thoroughly combined.
Add the flour in two batches mixing on low speed each time until the flour is thoroughly combined. Scrape the dough into a smaller bowl and refrigerate the dough for at least 60 minutes before baking.
How to Bake the Cookies
Now onto the fun part. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or Silpat. Once the oven is heated, fill a small bowl with 3/4 cup of turbinado sugar and remove the cookie dough from from the refrigerator. It should be firmer, but still soft enough to scoop.
Lightly spray your fingers with cooking spray. The oil on your fingers will prevent the dough from sticking to your fingers when you roll the dough in the sugar.
Use a 1-ounce cookie scoop to ensure that the cookies will be the same size. Scoop the cookie dough, and then roll it in the turbinado sugar. The ball of cookie dough does not need to be a perfect circle.
If using a half-size baking sheet place nine (9) balls of dough on cookie sheet, even spaced apart. Once all the cookies on the baking sheet flatten each ball of dough with your fingers or the bottom of a measuring cup.
Bake the cookies for 12 minutes. While these cookies are baking prepare the other baking sheet. The cookies are done when they risen and are puffy.
Remove the cookies from the oven and bang the baking sheet against the stove or the counter and allow the cookies to cool for at least 2 minutes before moving them to a cooling rack to finish cooling.
Bake the other baking sheet of cookies while the first batch is cooling. As the cookies cool they develop the signature crinkles.
Repeat these steps until all the cookie dough is done, allowing the baking sheets to cool completely before putting more cookie dough on them.
These cookies are so good when they first come out of the oven, but they taste even better on the 2nd and 3rd days. When I eat these cookies, first I taste cocoa, then molasses, then ginger, and finally the cinnamon.
Recipe - Frequently Asked Questions
Do I have to use turbinado sugar for the coating?
If you don't have turbinado sugar, you can use regular granulated sugar to coat the outsides of the cookie. The turbinado is better because the larger granules add a slight crunch to the outside of the cookie.
How long can I store the cookies?
The cookies will store up to 10 days in an airtight container. I think they taste even better on the 2nd and 3rd day.
Can I freeze the cookie dough?
Yes. After you scoop the cookies, but before you roll them in sugar place them on a baking sheet, freeze them and then place in a freezer bag. The cookies are good for 3 months in the freezer. Bake directly from the freezer, but you may need to add 2-3 minutes to the cooking time.
These cookies are delicious year-round, but the warm spices of ginger, cinnamon and clove make this a perfect cookie for fall and winter and perhaps your own Christmas cookie box.
More Holiday Cookie Recipes
If you need more ideas for your holiday baking needs check out these other cookies recipes on the blog:
- Pecan Caramel Chocolate Bars
- Apricot and Pistachio Shortbread Cookies
- Chocolate Shortbread Sandwich Cookies
- Chocolate Cherry Hazelnut Shortbread Cookies
Please leave me a note in the comments below and let me know what you think about this recipe or ask any questions that you. If you make this recipe I would love to see your pictures and if you post it to Instagram tag me @bakesbybrownsugar and #bakesbybrownsugar.
Cocoa Molasses Spice Cookies
- 3 cups (425 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 6 tablespoons (35 grams) unsweetened cocoa, sifted
- 1-1/2 teaspoons (7.5 grams) baking soda
- 1 tablespoon (5 grams) ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon (2.5 grams) ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper Optional
- 3/4 teaspoon (2 grams) kosher salt
- 12 tablespoons (170 grams) unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 cup (200 grams) white granulated sugar
- 1 cup (200 grams) packed dark brown sugar
- 3/4 cup (242 grams) unsulphured molasses
- 2 (100 grams) large eggs room temperature
- 3/4 cup (150 grams) turbinado sugar
Make the Cookie Dough
- Place the flour, cocoa, and baking soda in a medium-sized bowl and whisk until well combined. Crack the two eggs into a separate bowl.
- Place the butter, white sugar, dark brown sugar, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. The best way to add the molasses to the bowl is to place it on a scale and measure 242 grams of molasses.
- Start first by mixing the ingredients on low speed for about 20 seconds then increase the speed to medium-high speed and beat until mixture is fluffy and lighter in color, about 4 minutes. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.
- With the mixer on low speed add one egg then increase the speed to medium and beat until the egg is thoroughly mixed in. Repeat these steps for the second egg. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix on medium speed for about 10 seconds.
- Add half of the flour-cocoa mixture and mix on low speed until combined. Add the remaining flour mixture and mix on low speed until combine. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix for 10 more seconds to ensure the ingredients are thoroughly combined.
- Chill the dough for at least 60 minutes.
Bake the Cookies
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two half baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat.
- Use a 1-ounce scoop to scoop the dough into balls the size of golf balls. Roll the balls in sugar and place on a cookie sheet, about 9 for each cookie sheet.
- Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes or until "cracks" start to form on the top of the cookies. Remove the cookies from the oven, and holding the cookie sheet with both hands, slam the cookie against a towel covered countertop. This step will flatten the cookies.
- Allow them to cool for about 5 minutes on the cookie sheet. The cookies will have crinkly tops. Transfer the cookies to a cooling rack.
- The cookies are good for 10 days in an airtight container and taste even better the 2nd or 3rd day.