Welcome to Never Fail, a weekly column where we wax poetic about the recipes that never, ever let us down.
Here’s the thing about holiday cookies that people miss: Most of them are bad. Like, moisture-sapping, gritty, too-sweet mounds of sadness bad. Nobody wants that, no matter how cutely those pucks are decorated or how festively they’re packaged. I’m over it! I want a cookie that tastes good, first and foremost. Which is why I’m forever a devotee of the OG (original glitter–bomb): Chewy Molasses Cookies.
Sure, I love cookies that make a visual impact. Raspberry rugelach that shine like Christmas tree ornaments? Great! Zebra cookies with a dazzling collar of ruby–red sugar? Nice! But there’s a simple beauty in this molasses cookie recipe, a throwback from when BA contributor Alison Roman worked in our test kitchen. (Yep: The same person who brought the world The Cookies.) They dazzle quietly, showing up without needing too much attention. Plus, they make your house smell more festive than a holiday candle store, and are a whole lot less complicated to make than any of the disappointing, look-better-than-they-taste “showstoppers” that are bound to turn up at the cookie swap. What more could you ask for?
Here’s how to get started. Bump your oven racks to the lower and upper thirds of the oven and preheat it to 375º. Whisk together those dry ingredients and wet ingredients in separate bowls, per usual. Then, combine the mixtures—no special equipment necessary!—until well incorporated. Nothing fancy, folks!
Throw some sanding sugar into a separate shallow bowl. Scoop out dough by the tablespoonful (cookie scoops encouraged) and form into balls and roll in the sanding sugar. Plop ‘em onto two cookie sheets lined with parchment paper and toss them into the oven. After 8–10 minutes, rotating the cookies halfway through, they’re done and ready to relieve you from bad sugar cookie–tyranny.
Just like that, you’ve made a batch of beautiful, pillowy cookies that twinkle ever so slightly from that sugar bath you gave them earlier. They’re so much more complex tasting than they seem like they should be, with punchy hits of cinnamon, a kiss of cardamom, and just the right about of zing from ginger, all backed up by that just-the-right-amount-of-bitter molasses. They basically capture the feeling of hygge better than any cozy log cabin in Aspen. And after weeks of force-feeding yourself bland cookies, you could use a little rest.
The molasses cookie recipe in question: