These cookies have such an incredible story I’m giddy with excitement to finally share them with you. The story begins several months ago, in May or June, when Robert’s former roommate, Dan, graduated from business school. Dan’s parents were in town from Kansas and his mom brought these homemade molasses crinkles. I stood at the kitchen counter working my way through the bag of cookies (classy, huh?) They were the softest, chewiest molasses cookies I’d ever had. Between mouthfuls of crumbs, I asked Dan’s mom for the recipe. Time passed and the cookies slipped my mind. (Now that I’ve had them again it’s impossible to believe how that could have possibly happened.)
Fast-forward a few months to early September and we’re in Kansas City celebrating Dan and his now-wife, Anna’s, wedding. About an hour before the wedding Dan comes down to greet his guests who are enjoying pre-ceremony cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. He spots me and, out of his tuxedo pocket, beneath his rose and wheat boutonniere, presents an envelope containing this recipe. His mom remembered I had asked for it and didn’t want to forget to give it to me. At her son’s wedding. So an hour before he was to say “I do,” Dan, the groom, delivered a hand-written index card with the recipe for molasses crinkle cookies.
But that’s not all.
After the ceremony I pulled the envelope out of my clutch to read what ingredients these magical cookies contained. At the top right corner of the recipe card I saw a note from Dan’s mom. The recipe was his grandmother’s. Grandma Eleanor. My heart leaped out of my chest. My grandma, whom I’ve mentioned countless times on this blog…the person I think about every single time I step into the kitchen….the woman I wish I could call to tell about my latest cooking endeavors because I know she’d be “tickled”…her name was Eleanor.
I was tickled.
Of course, I made the recipe as soon as I could. I made it twice in two days to be exact. I had to get it right. The thing is, I noticed the recipe contained a secret ingredient that lends the cookies their fluffy chewiness: Shortening…3/4 cup of it. I can’t really explain why, but I couldn’t bring myself to use shortening. I had to use butter. Because butter’s practically a health food, right? See, there’s no explaining my logic.
For the first batch of cookies I replaced the shortening with an equal amount of butter. Although buttery and delicious (you could see the butter melting into the hot cookies), they came out of the oven and quickly deflated into flat pancakes. These were not the pillowy cookies I remembered. After some Google searching I learned that unlike butter, shortening doesn’t contain water, which is why it makes food fluffy. Still, I was determined. So I tried again–this time with less butter. See the cookie below? That did the trick.
But this story may not be entirely over just yet. While there’s no doubt in my mind these cookies were chewy, ginger-y perfection I may be making another, different batch this weekend. When I relayed the story to my mom about Dan’s Grandma Eleanor’s molasses cookies she pulled out my Grandma Eleanor’s recipe for molasses cookies. Although it’s very similar (shortening and all) there are a few changes such as more molasses and different spices. So stay tuned, folks. My parents are headed to Chicago this weekend and you can bet there will be some hardcore cookie taste testing going down in this kitchen. After all, we’ll take any excuse to eat more cookies.
Dan’s Grandma Eleanor’s Molasses Crinkles
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup molasses
Combine flour through ginger in a bowl and whisk to remove any lumps. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or using a hand-held electric mixer), cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and mix until combined. Add molasses and mix until combined. Add dry ingredients in three separate additions, mixing until combined after each one. Cover and chill dough in refrigerator for at least an hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll dough into balls and then roll in sugar. Place dough on cookie sheet and bake for 8 minutes.