Ever gotten bored? Stupid question, of course, you have, but have you ever gotten bored of something you positively adore? It’s a hell of a lot worse than being generally bored, right? You expect that adored something to bring stimulation or even joy but, inexplicably, it doesn’t, it’s just meh. That’s how I feel about ginger molasses cookies.
At one time, ginger molasses cookies were my favorite cookie. If I walked into a cafe that sold them, I bought them. If I had a spare moment at home, I made them. I wrapped them in ornate boxes and ribbons and gave them as gifts. I stashed them in the freezer for rainy days. The ginger molasses cookie and I were tight. Nothing could dispell our bond…or so I thought. One fateful day, I bit into a Ginger Molasses cookie (a good one, I might add) and felt nothing. And just like that, I was a stranger to myself. There was only one thing to do, I had to make my favorite cookie a little kooky. And in that moment, these Five Spice Ginger Molasses Cookies were born.
When the idea of adding five spice powder to cookies strolled into my head, I was a little concerned I was flying too close to the sun. Was I jumping the cookie shark? Pause and take a moment to picture what a cookie shark might look like. In the end, I thought the idea was worth a shot. If the cookies sucked, I would just force my boyfriend to eat them and mope for an evening. Not a big deal! But, thankfully, this did not come to pass. These Five Spice Ginger Molasses Cookies were good. So good!
Before I go any further, perhaps I should explain what five spice powder is. Five spice is a spice mixture (obviously) used primarily in Cantonese cooking. It’s typically used on meats like duck, goose, and pork, in other words, not cookies. The spice mix can vary based on what part of Asia it hails from, but most five spice blends feature star anise, cinnamon, fennel, cloves, and Sichuan pepper. I use it quite frequently, it one of my dinnertime go-tos.
I had no doubt that the star anise, cinnamon, and cloves would get along famously with a ginger molasses base, but I had my doubts about the fennel. Oddly enough, I was fairly ambivalent towards the Sichuan pepper; I like heat everywhere, even in my desserts. Honestly, in the winter, I’m mostly fueled by cayenne-spiked hot chocolate – true story. So, really the fennel was the only thing that gave me pause. It gave me an even more lengthy pause because I don’t particularly like black licorice – the closest sweet thing I could relate fennel too. But after staring blankly at nothing for longer than any healthy person should, I remembered my fall back plan, shrugged my shoulders and got on with the damn thing.
Truth be told, these Five Spice Ginger Molasses Cookies are pretty close to the ones I enjoyed before our falling out. But there is definitely enough new and off-kilter about these cookies to keep them interesting. The texture is spot on and the flavor is deep and intense (insert dirty joke here). There is a savory element to them but it’s not particularly overwhelming or challenging. In some ways, the savory notes actually heighten the sweetness and caramel complexity of the molasses. They’re hard to explain, to be honest, but I can tell you these Five Spice Ginger Molasses Cookies are like nothing you’ve had before. And their unique flavor certainly won’t stop you from eating more cookies than you probably should.
Dare to be different this holiday season. Whip up these Five Spice Ginger Molasses Cookies for someone you love today because festive baking will always preferable to holiday shopping.
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 teaspoons five spice powder
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 1 egg
- Zest of 2 clementines
- 1/2 cup turbinado sugar
- 1/2 cup candied ginger, minced
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, five spice powder, ground ginger and salt together. Set aside.
- In a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together until pale yellow and fluffy. Add the molasses, egg and zest and mix until smooth.
- With the mixer on its lowest setting, slowly integrate the dry ingredients into the wet until a uniform dough forms. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and transfer to the fridge. Chill for 1 hour.
- Working in 2 teaspoon increments, roll the chilled dough into small balls.
- Stir the turbinado sugar and candied ginger together in a small bowl. Roll the dough balls in the ginger/sugar mixture until well coated. Transfer the coated cookie dough to a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Make sure the dough balls have 1-inch of space on all sides.
- Bake the cookies for 12 minutes or until golden and slightly cracked. Remove the cookies from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.