Molasses Cookies

Recipe status: stable

Calling this recipe "stable" doesn't quite do it justice; it's been stable for the better part of a century; this is a true old timey recipe. The use of baking soda and vinegar, instead of baking powder, is a testament to that fact. I was given to my mother by the mother of a friend of hers. It certainly dates from before WWII, possibly earlier.

I thought about trying the recipe with modern double-acting baking powder, but decided against. That's not the cookie I remember helping my mother make and it just wouldn't be right.

This is a large recipe. You might try halving it if you're not sure you're going to like them. On the other hand, they do freeze well.

Makes about 120 cookies.

  1. Combine the sugar, shortening and molasses in a saucepan. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring regularly, until the mixture is combined and the shortening melted. Remove from heat.
  2. Add the baking soda and vinegar and stir. Add two cups of flour, the eggs and salt. Stir to combine. Add the rest of the flour and stir to combine.
  3. Put the dough in the refrigerator until chilled (an hour or two).
  4. Take part of the dough and roll it out on a well floured surface to about 1/8 inch. The dough will stick--don't be afraid to use a lot of flour to keep it from doing so. I use at least another cup of flour while rolling.
  5. Cut out shapes using your favourite cookie cutter (or cut squares with a knife if you don't have a cutter).
  6. Lay out the cookies on a cookie sheet (preferably light-coloured) and bake at 350°F for about 10 minutes. These will burn easily, so keep an eye on them.
  7. When cooked, free the cookies with a metal spatula and let cool on a rack. Store in an airtight container.

Copyright Greg Baker, last modified July 2002.