America’s Test Kitchen: If you’re looking for a new cookie recipe, this is the one you should try and save for the holidays

We made more than 50 batches to find the best recipe for an uncommonly soft, chewy cookie with warm, tingling spices.

By America’s Test Kitchen

Our ideal molasses cookie recipe would produce a charmingly crackled and crinkled cookie with an uncommonly moist, chewy interior and a spicy flavor with undertones of dark, bittersweet molasses. To make this molasses cookie recipe a reality, we started with all-purpose flour and used butter rather than shortening for full, rich flavor. The precise right amounts of molasses, brown sugar, vanilla, and spices gave us the flavor we wanted. Taking the cookies out of the oven when they looked underdone gave our molasses cookies the chewiness we required.

Soft and Chewy Molasses Spice Cookies
Makes about 22 cookies

1/3 cup granulated sugar (about 2 1/2 ounces; 71 grams), plus 1/2 cup for dipping
2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (11 1/4 ounces; 319 grams)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon table salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened but still cool
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar (about 2 1/2 ounces; 71 grams)
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup molasses (about 6 ounces; 170 grams), light or dark

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Place 1/2 cup sugar for dipping in an 8-inch or a 9-inch cake pan.

2. Whisk flour, baking soda, spices, and salt in a medium bowl until thoroughly combined; set aside.

3. In a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter with brown and granulated sugars at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low and add yolk and vanilla; increase speed to medium and beat until incorporated, about 20 seconds. Reduce speed to medium-low and add molasses; beat until fully incorporated, about 20 seconds, scraping bottom and sides of bowl once with rubber spatula.

4. Reduce speed to lowest setting; add flour mixture and beat until just incorporated, about 30 seconds, scraping bowl down once. Give dough final stir with rubber spatula to ensure that no pockets of flour remain at bottom. Dough will be soft.

5. Using tablespoon measure, scoop heaping tablespoon of dough and roll between palms into 1 1/2-inch ball; drop ball into cake pan with sugar and repeat to form about four balls. Toss balls in sugar to coat and set on a prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Repeat with remaining dough.

6. Bake one sheet at a time until cookies are browned, still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft (cookies will look raw between cracks and seem underdone), about 11 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking.

7. Cool cookies on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then use a wide metal spatula to transfer cookies to a wire rack; cool cookies to room temperature and serve. (They can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container or zipper-lock plastic bag up to five days.)

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