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Gluten-free chewy ginger molasses cookies: sometimes weather trumps seasons

Alright I know I have the wrong time of the year. Molasses cookies are for the holidays, winter time, snowy, cold weather. WELP, it’s the end of July, rainy, grey, and freezing, so pretty much the same but worse. It’s eerie, damp, and depressing out, a slight reminder of the east-coast (sorry I’m not sorry). As always, gross weather calls for baking but with the feel of today, a lil ol’ comfort is needed too.

Confession time: I love ginger cookies. What is there not to love? I typically start making them mid-October and stop mid-April. Gotta extend that holiday season as much as possible, right? So might as well include the end of July into the mix.

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Let’s talk molasses. Molasses has an acidic sweetness that plays oh-so-nicely with “winter” spices like cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Oh, and ginger too. Molasses is typically made from sugar cane or sugar beet juice that is boiled down to a syrup. SO it’s pretty much sugar with an awesome flavor, meaning you don’t have to add much more granulated sugar to the recipe.

Usulphured vs. Sulphured Molasses? Sulphured molasses has been treated with sulphur dioxide as a preservative, which normally gives it a strong pronounced chemical flavor (yuck!) and is less sweet, so most commercial molasses is unsulphured.

Dark vs. light? Light molasses is the sweetest and mildest in flavor and is the one most used in baking, with exceptions like this guy. Dark molasses is thicker, less sweet, darker, and stronger in flavor. AND it gives gingerbread cookies their distinct color and flavor.

For this recipe, use unsulphured, dark molasses: my go-to.

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The cold weather can put a damper on softening the butter. Cold outside. Cold inside. Lose, lose. But don’t worry there’s a trick, isn’t there always? If you have an extra warm spot in your house, put the butter there. Otherwise, turn your oven to warm and throw it in there for a few minutes. Watch it like a HAWK! We want softened butter, not melted. Plus, if it melts everywhere, you’ll end up cleaning your oven instead of baking these soft, chewy, delicious cookies and no one wants that.

Why softened the butter? If it is too hard, or too melty, the creaming process doesn’t work its magic and you end up with a flatter cookies. Still tasty, but flatter. Hence, for the butter to cream well with the sugar, it truly needs to be softened to room temperature.

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Last tidbit, for me, there is a difference between gingersnaps and chewy ginger molasses cookies. I’m sure there are people out there who will say you can make a chewy gingersnap, but come on, “snap” is in the name. If your gingersnaps don’t snap, you’ve done something wrong. So if you’re looking for a hard, crunchy ginger cookie, you are in the wrong spot. But now that you’ve read so far you might as well continue and give these guys a shot.

P.S. you have to let the dough chill for AT LEAST 30 minutes, if not more. But really, what else are you gonna do on a rainy, cold day? If the dough is not completely chilled will be soft and difficult to form into balls AND the cookies will flatten out significantly while baking. Patience my friend,  so worth it.

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 What you need:

1 ½ cups earth balance butter, softened to room temperature (I use soy-free, from a box*)
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup molasses
2 eggs
4 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour (my go-to)
4 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt

*Box earth balance butter, or spread as they call it, softens quicker! You can use the sticks if you prefer, you’ll just be waiting longer.

What to do:

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, soda, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, beat together butter and sugar on medium speed for 2 minutes until light and fluffy, scraping down the bowl if need be. Mix in the eggs, one at a time, and then molasses. Beat on medium-low speed until each is combined. Gradually add in the dry ingredient mixture and beat until combined.

Place a sheet of plastic wrap directly on top of the dough to completely cover it: we want to prevent air from getting in. Refrigerate dough for 30-60 minutes, until it is completely chilled. Read why in my P.S. above if you skipped over it.

Pre-heat oven to 375°F.

Roll the dough into small balls, about 1-inch in diameter. Fill a small bowl with sugar, and roll each ball in the sugar until it is completely coated. Place on cookie sheet at least 1 inch apart, then bake for about 8-10 minutes, until the cookies begin to slightly crack on top.

Remove from the oven and let cool for a minute or two. They will probably crack more while cooling. Transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely or eat warm.

Eat right away, duh, or store in a sealed container for up to 1 week.

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