I come from a family of cookie fanatics, so it is no surprise to me that, as my baby book notes,"cookie" was one of my first words. From as far back as I can remember there were always fresh baked cookies in our house. My mother took great pride in her exceptional baking skills and was never one to rely on the back of chip bags for standard recipes, no sir. Instead, in our house, recipe collecting was a detailed, tightly controlled procedure. As children, my brother and I were taught to approach cookie tasting with an almost scientific mindset, like each recipe was our personal family experiment. It would start with Mom clipping a new recipe to try, following it to a "T", and then setting out the fresh cookies for us to analyze. She would request that we taste them carefully, consider various details like texture and flavor with each bite, and then ask for a review of the recipe. We found this process was an excellent way to vet recipes, dozens were tossed and a select assortment were kept in a special file. Before Mom filed the keepers she would write notes on them like "crispy & thin," or "shorten bake time" and "add chopped pecans?" Then there were the recipes with the note "So Good." These were the recipes that, in our opinion, were the best of the best.
Luckily for my husband and daughter, I strongly believe in carrying on our family tradition of cookie baking and now possess a copy of my mother's file. I will also proudly note that my daughter can pronounce "cookie" and it was among one of her first words. I am constantly supplying my household with fresh baked cookies and, in fact, am hard pressed to remember the last time I actually purchased a package of cookies at the grocery store. On occasion I will pick up some Tate's Chocolate Chip, but that is usually in the case of extreme circumstances like when I return from a long trip, or am sick, or have broken both legs and can't possibly stand in front of the oven. I am constantly on the hunt for new and exciting cookie variations - scouring the internet, clipping from magazines and swapping recipes with friends. However, when I am in the mood for something comforting and familiar, I pull an old favorite out of the file and happily get to work.
Nobody is exactly sure of the origin of our family's molasses cookie recipe since Mom's copy is written on a yellowed index card with the note "So Good. From magazine, 1982." She remembers impulsively ripping out the magazine page, probably because of a sugar craving, while in the waiting room at the obstetrician's office during her pregnancy with my younger brother. Mom has been making them ever since that year, and though we have sampled several other molasses cookie recipes, we always come back to these. They have a deep molasses flavor with a generous dose of spice which lend the cookies notes of toffee and gingersnap. These cookies are meant to be made small so they are like silver-dollar size bites of sugar and spice, the ideal companions for afternoon tea or coffee. Additionally, I find that they are perfect for serving to almost any group of people. I've made them into ice-cream sandwiches after summer barbecues, taken them to the office for meetings, and served them warm with big bowls of vanilla ice cream to dinner guests. Just this week I served them at playgroup and received several compliments. Whenever I am asked for the recipe I always smile inwardly, write it down on a recipe card and hand it over. In short, these cookies have stood the test of time for all the right reasons. I promise I would never give you a 26 year-old recipe if I didn't think it was so good.
Naptime So Good Molasses Cookies - adapted from a magazine recipe, circa 1982.
2 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/4 c. unsulphured molasses
1 c. sugar
1 t. baking soda
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. ground cloves
1/2 t. ground ginger
White sugar for rolling
1. Melt butter in microwave and set aside to cool slightly.
2. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
3. In mixer or large glass bowl combine molasses, cooled butter, egg and sugar. Stir until completely combined.
4. Add dry ingredients to molasses mixture. Stir until completely combined.
5. Chill dough in refrigerator for 2 hours - AT LEAST!
6. When ready to bake preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
7. Roll dough into 1 t. balls and roll in sugar. (Remember, these cookies are supposed to be small!)
8. Place 2 inches apart on cookie sheet lined with a silpat and bake for 8-10 minutes, until slightly browned around the edges.
Yields approx. 4 dozen cookies.
Naptime Recipe Notes:
Naptime Recipe Props: These cookies are always a huge hit and are very easy to make. Since they are so moist they freeze well, making them perfect to stash away until you host playgroup.
Naptime Stopwatch: This dough took about 7 minutes to make, no joke. It is essential to chil the dough for two hours, but when they are ready to bake it takes only a few minutes to get your dough in balls and rolled in sugar.
Naptime Reviews: From my most recent batch I fed four mom's at playgroup, one husband and four toddlers. Everyone loved them!