Friends, I give you the quintessential October cookie. It’s the cookie that will get you through the transition from the splendor of October to the craziness of the holidays. It’s my second favorite cookie ever and it helped me through many a spelling lesson.
When I was in middle school my mother graciously asked a friend to help tutor me in spelling. It was my biggest struggle. English spelling is unkind to those of us who are stringent rule-followers. Though I am still a less than fabulous speller (read: pretty bad but that’s why I have a dictionary), one part of those Sunday afternoon lessons was never forgotten.
My tutor would bring with her a plate full of soft, chewy, lightly spicy molasses cookies to brighten up our lessons. These cookies, along with the “International Delight” instant coffee-flavored beverages (which are basically the best thing ever when you’re nine) made spelling lessons a true treat.
Though the lessons are a thing of the past, the utter perfection of those cookies remains fresh in my memory. Each Fall the craving returns and I know it is time to buy some molasses and preheat the oven.
I greatly prefer molasses cookies to ginger snaps (which, let’s face it, are pretty similar in flavor) for one reason - the texture. Though hard and crunchy is appropriate for some cookies, I firmly believe that a dark, spicy cookie needs to be soft, and chewy.
Though it was not necessary, I decided to bump my molasses cookies up a bit this year by drizzling them with apple cider caramel sauce. Yeah. I’m putting caramel on everything these days. It’s Autumn, I just can’t help myself.
The cider adds a bit of tang to the dark, bitter caramel and it melds perfectly with the sweet, spicy cookie.
Serving recommendation: Cold cider, warm cookies, fuzzy socks, Jimmy Fallon clips on youtube. The End.
Mama, thank you for those spelling lessons that, if nothing else, helped me find my cookie soulmate. He’s everything I’ve dreamt of - soft, sweet, and spicy. Eew, that got weird. I think I should go now. Bye.
Chewy Molasses Cookies with Apple Cider Caramel
makes 3 dozen cookies / recipe adapted from Paula Deen
for the caramel
- 3/4 cup apple cider
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
In a small saucepan bring apple cider to a boil over medium high heat. Boil for 10-15 minutes, until the cider has reduced by two thirds. You will be left with 1/4 cup of reduced cider.
In a medium saucepan combine sugar, butter and water. Place over medium heat and stir until the butter melts and the sugar begins to dissolve. Once the sugar has dissolved increase heat to medium high and boil, without stirring, until the caramel is deep amber in color, about 5-7 minutes. Swirl the pan occasionally but DO NOT stir or scape down the sides. Once the color is correct remove from heat and add vanilla, cinnamon, cider, and heavy whipping cream. Be careful as the caramel will steam and splatter. Return the pan to the burner and stir until the caramel is smooth and homogenous. Allow to cool to room temperature before drizzling over the cookies.
for the cookies
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
Sift to combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and salt. Set aside.
In the work bowl of your stand mixer combine butter and brown sugar. Beat for 1-2 minutes; until fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add egg. Beat until well combined. With the mixer on medium speed, add molasses and mix until smooth. Slowly incorporate in flour mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. The dough should be a bit dry, but sticky. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper.
Use a 1-ounce scoop to portion the dough into balls. Roll each ball in granulated sugar and place on a lined baking sheet. Use the palm of your hand to flatten the cookies slightly. Bake for 12 minutes. The cookies will look slightly underdone in the center - this is perfect. If you over-bake these cookies they will lose their chewy texture. Allow to cook on wire racks before drizzling with caramel. Enjoy!