Baking enthusiast Sally McKenney Quinn is the author of the popular blog and cookbook Sally’s Baking Addiction as well as a food blogger for PEOPLE.com. Check back each month for her latest easy-to-follow recipes! You can order her new cookbook, Sally’s Candy Addiction, here. Warning: Don’t read when hungry.
One of my all-time favorite cookie recipes is this ginger spiced molasses cookie. It’s a recipe my mom baked every single Christmas and once I was old enough to take over, I began making the cookies myself. Not one December goes by where I don’t whip up at least 3 or 4 batches.
The cookies are pleasantly spiced with ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Dark brown sugar and molasses deepen their flavor, while butter creates an incredibly soft and tender cookie. I like to roll the cookie dough in sugar before baking because it gives the cookies their holiday sparkle. That’s completely optional! The one step you can’t quite leave out, though, is chilling the cookie dough. Chilling helps the spice and molasses flavors to develop and prevents the cookies from spreading too much in the oven.
Since it’s the holidays, I like to increase the WOW factor and spread homemade cream cheese frosting over each cookie. The combination of spiced ginger and molasses with sweet and creamy frosting is out of this world! Make sure the cream cheese you are using is the brick-style cream cheese, not cream cheese spread. And make sure it’s room temperature. Cold cream cheese yields a lumpy frosting. Not very easy on the eyes!
It’s not only the nostalgia that keeps bringing me back to these festive cookies, it’s basically everything about them from the taste to the texture to the unbelievable cream cheese frosting. It’s hard not to fall in love after every single bite! I promise these will fly off your holiday cookie tray this year.
Soft Ginger Molasses Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 and ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground cloves
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
¼ tsp. salt
¾ cup (1 and ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
¾ cup packed dark brown sugar
⅓ cup dark molasses
1 egg, at room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract
⅓ cup granulated sugar, for rolling
4 oz. brick-style cream cheese, softened to room temperature (full fat)
3 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 and ½ cups confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Sprinkles, for decorating
1. In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or using a handheld mixer, cream the softened butter for about 1 minute on high speed. Add the brown sugar and beat on high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 full minutes. Scrape down the sides as needed. Add the molasses, egg, and vanilla. Beat on high, scraping down the sides as needed again.
2. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet and beat on low speed until completely combined. Cover dough tightly and chill for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.
3. Remove cookie dough from the refrigerator. If you let it chill for longer than 3 hours, allow to sit out at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
4. Pour the granulated sugar into a bowl. Take about 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons of dough and roll into a ball, then roll into the sugar and place 2 inches apart on the baking sheets. Bake in batches for 8-9 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet for ten minutes; the cookies will slightly deflate as they cool. If they don’t, you can gently press them down. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
5. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment or using a handheld mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter together on high speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the confectioners’ sugar and beat on medium-high speed for 2 minutes until fully combined. Add the vanilla and beat on high for 1 full minute. Taste the frosting and add a pinch of salt if too sweet. Frost cooled cookies and garnish with sprinkles.