If you’re a fan of spice cookies, our Test Kitchen calls these the best molasses cookies they have ever had. Our deeply spiced recipe is flavored with light molasses, vanilla extract, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and one unexpected ingredient: black pepper. A pinch of ground black pepper adds a hint of spiciness and gives the cookie a more complex flavor that people will notice but won’t be able to quite figure out. (See if they can guess!) Like all drop cookies, these Spiced Molasses Drops are very simple to make. You can make the dough a day ahead, chill it overnight, then bake it the next day. Once you’ve combined the wet and dry ingredients using an electric mixer, simply drop heaping spoonfuls of the dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. While it might be tempting to just coat your cookie sheets with cooking spray, the parchment paper will keep the cookies from sticking. Bake in a preheated oven, rotating the pans to the lower rack halfway through baking to ensure they bake evenly. These tender, chewy cookies are covered with crunchy coarse sanding sugar for just the right amount of textural contrast. Our Test Kitchen raved about them and we think they will become your new favorite spice cookie too.
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup light molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup sanding sugar or sparkling sugar
How to Make It
Preheat oven to 375°F with oven racks in top third and bottom third of oven. Beat butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add molasses and vanilla, and beat on low speed just until combined. Add egg, and beat on medium speed until mixture thickens slightly, about 30 seconds. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and pepper in a medium bowl. Gradually add to butter mixture, and beat on low speed just until combined after each addition.
Place sanding sugar in a shallow dish or bowl, and drop dough by heaping tablespoonfuls into sugar, rolling to coat. Place half of coated dough balls about 2 inches apart on parchment paper-lined baking sheets.
Bake in preheated oven until cookies are just set, 8 to 9 minutes, switching pans top rack to bottom rack halfway through baking. Cool on pans 5 minutes; remove cookies to wire racks, and cool completely, about 30 minutes. Repeat with remaining cookie dough.