Molasses Sugar Butter Cookies


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes


    2¾ inch cookies

Appears in

The Baking Bible

By Rose Levy Beranbaum

Published 2014

  • About
Oven Temperature 375°F/190°C
Baking Time 8 to 10 minutes for each of three batches

When Woody and I appeared on Sally Longo’s television show, Dinner at 8, Sally brought her favorite molasses cookies. We loved the chewy middle and crisp crust and immediately asked for the recipe. The original came from Sally’s aunt Evelyn, who made the cookies with shortening, which was responsible for the special texture. Because I prefer the taste of butter, especially beurre noisette (“browned butter”), we tried substituting it for the shortening. Clarifying the butter removes the milk solids and water, making it comparable in moisture to shortening and producing the same terrific texture.


Cookie Dough

Makes 26.5 ounces/750 grams

unsalted butter 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) 8 ounces 227 grams
bleached all-purpose flour cups (lightly spooned into the cup and leveled off) 9.6 ounces 272 grams
baking soda 2 teaspoons . 11 grams
fine sea salt ¼ plus teaspoon . 2.3 grams
ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon . 2.2 grams
ground cloves ½ teaspoon . 1.3 grams
ground ginger ½ teaspoon . 0.5 gram
superfine sugar ¾ cup plus tablespoons 6 ounces 170 grams
molasses, preferably Grandma’s light ¼ cup (59 ml), cup lightly coated with cooking spray 2.8 ounces 80 grams
1 large egg, at room temperature 3 tablespoons plus ½ teaspoon (47 ml) 1.8 ounces 50 grams
superfine sugar, for rolling the dough balls (see Notes) cup 2.3 ounces 67 grams

Special Equipment

Two 15 by 12 inch cookie sheets, no preparation needed or lined with parchment | Optional: a 1½ inch diameter cookie scoop


Clarify and Brown the Butter

Beurre Noisette

Have ready a fine-mesh or cheesecloth-lined strainer suspended over a 1 cup glass measure with a spout.

In a medium heavy saucepan over very low heat, melt the butter. Raise the heat to low and cook, uncovered, watching carefully to prevent burning. Move away any foam on the surface to check the progress. As soon as the milk solids become a deep brown, immediately pour the butter through the strainer into the measure, scraping the solids into the strainer.

Measure or weigh ¾ cup/177 ml/5.1 ounces/146 grams of the butter and add the browned solids to it. Let it cool to below 80°F/27°C (see Notes).

Mix the Dry Ingredients

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger.

Make the Dough

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, mix the clarified butter, sugar, molasses, and egg on low speed for 1 minute. Add the flour mixture. Start on the lowest speed to moisten the flour. Raise the speed to low and beat for 30 seconds.

Scrape the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap and divide it into thirds, about 8.8 ounces/250 grams each. Wrap each piece in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour, or until firm enough to handle.

Preheat the Oven

Thirty minutes or longer before baking, set an oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C.

Roll the Dough into Balls

In a small bowl or large custard cup, place the sugar for rolling the dough balls. Remove one piece of dough from the refrigerator.

Measure the dough into the cookie scoop and level it off with a small metal spatula, or scoop out a heaping tablespoon (0.8 ounce/23 grams). There will be 11 pieces of dough. Roll each piece between the palms of your hands into a 1¼ inch ball.

After making each dough ball, roll it around in the bowl of sugar to coat it well. Set the dough balls a minimum of inches apart on a cookie sheet.

Bake the Cookies

Bake for 4 minutes. For even baking, rotate the cookie sheet halfway around. They will still be ball shaped. Continue baking for 4 to 6 minutes. The cookies will flatten, and cracks will appear on the surface, but the inside will look slightly underbaked.

Cool the Cookies

Set the cookie sheet on a wire rack and let the cookies cool for 5 minutes so that they will be firm enough to transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. Use a pancake turner to lift the cookies onto another wire rack to finish cooling. The cookies will firm up as they cool, resulting in a crispy surface and soft, chewy interior. (Baking longer will result in a darker cookie that is crisper throughout.)

While each batch of cookies is baking, shape the dough for the next batch.


Airtight: room temperature, 1 week; refrigerated, 2 weeks; frozen, 3 months.

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