Double Ginger Molasses Rye Cookies
The smell of butter and sugar and spices called them, one by one, into the kitchen. Molasses cookies were in the oven, beckoning with their aroma. As I pulled out the first batch, the response from the kids was immediate and inevitable. The question I get every time I bake:
“Is it healthy? they ask, with an air of curiosity laced with skepticism. They wonder why it is that their mother doesn’t cook like a normal person, using normal recipes without the nearly pathological need to tinker, to add whole grains, scale back on sugar, and trim portion size.
My answer this time? Not healthy, exactly, but healthier. They’re buttery, after all. And there’s no shortage of sweetness. But stacked up against a box of treats from the supermarket or a typical recipe in a dessert book or Google search? Yes, healthier.
Whole Grain Flour
If you’re going to grab a molasses cookie, here’s the upside of doing it my way: The recipe works in two kinds of whole grain flours — whole-wheat, and my current obsession, dark rye flour. That means more fiber and nutrients, and to my tastebuds, a more interesting flavor, too.
Less Sugar and Butter
They’ve also got a little less butter than many recipes and use honey in place of some of the sugar. Even better is the role of molasses here. In addition to giving the cookies their signature dark, rich hue, blackstrap molasses contributes calcium, iron and potassium to every batch. And have I mentioned the potential role of spices like cinnamon and ginger in health….?
But my kids could care less about all of that — fiber, fat grams, trace minerals, and research linking cinnamon to heart health. And when it comes down to it, where cookies are concerned, I care most about what they care about, which is, how do they taste?
They don’t taste healthy ….or even healthier. They taste like you want seconds.
Double Ginger Molasses Rye Cookies
- 4 ounces butter (one 1/2 cup stick)
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup blackstrap molasses (see notes)
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 1/4 cups white whole wheat or whole-wheat pastry flour
- 3/4 cup rye flour
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
- Sugar for rolling the cookies
In a large bowl, cream the butter, honey, molasses, brown sugar, and egg with an electric mixer or vigorously by hand until light and smooth, scraping down the sides as needed.
In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the white whole wheat flour, rye flour, cinnamon, ground ginger, cardamom, baking powder, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter/sugar mixture and mix until blended, scraping down the sides as needed. Add the crystallized ginger and mix again just to blend. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour about 1/2 cup of sugar (coarse sugar if you have it) into a cereal-sized bowl. Make balls of dough that are about 2 teaspoons each, rolling them between the palms of your hands until smooth. Roll the balls of dough in sugar, coating them entirely. Arrange the dough on a baking sheet with 1 1/2 to 2 inches of space between. Use the bottom of a glass to gently flatten the cookies until they are about 1/3-inch thick.
Put cookies into the oven to bake. For a chewy cookie, bake until the color begins to darken, particularly around the edges, about 10 minutes. If you cook them longer, they will be crispy.
Remove from oven and let cool for at least 15 minutes. Transfer to a covered storage container.
*Molasses labeled "blackstrap" is much higher in calcium, iron, and other minerals than regular molasses. If your market doesn't carry it, any molasses will do. **White whole wheat flour is a whole grain flour from a variety of wheat that is pale in color and lighter in texture than regular whole wheat. If you can't find white whole wheat flour, use whole wheat pastry flour instead.