Having children around during the holidays is a wonderful thing—it helps you remember that there is magic in the season. It’s wonderful to re-experience that magic through the eyes of a child. Too often we get caught up in the hustle and bustle of trying to get things done, and we forget to stop and enjoy and live in the moment.
I’ve been thinking a lot about how to help enhance the holiday experience for my own little girls. I’ve been trying to include Squirrel as much as I can in the kitchen, but it seems that a lot of my holiday baking isn’t conducive to having small hands contribute. Making toffee + small hands = a very bad idea. So I decided to come up with a new holiday favorite that we could make together. I was flipping through an old cookbook called Family Favorites From Country Kitchens (my all-time favorite rice pudding recipe that my mom always used to make comes from this book), when a recipe for Soft Molasses Drop cookies caught my eye. It looked like something I could adapt for Squirrel and I to tackle together.
Our adaptation is a 2 for 1 deal—one recipe with two different cookie options. You can make Soft Molasses Cookies or Molasses Whoopie Pies or both! These cookies are my contribution to the Virtual Cookie Jar for the 12 Days of Sharing event. I am thrilled to be today’s co-host for the event, which is being hosted by In Jennie’s Kitchen to help raise awareness about childhood hunger in America. If you haven’t made a donation yet, I urge you to do so. Although we cannot invite all of the hungry children here in America into our homes for a warm meal, we can help to feed them. Every dollar donated makes a difference. You’re donation may even win you one of these great prizes.
Once we had on our aprons, and Squirrel had donned her very important head gear, she insisted that I take a picture. Yes ma’am.
The dough for these cookies is very straight forward—mostly just mixing stuff together like any other cookie dough. Note, however, that you do mix the molasses and the baking soda together in a separate bowl before adding it to the dough. This helps prevent the baking soda from clumping.
Once the dough is made, you just drop teaspoonfuls of it onto greased cookie sheets and bake them.
Hey, if Squirrel can do it, you can too! When they bake, they will spread out and take on a much prettier shape. It’s best to put the cookie dough on a cool cookie sheet. If the cookie sheet is still warm, the cookies will spread more at the edges and get slightly crispy. The cookie on the left in this picture started cooking on a cookie sheet that was still warm, as opposed to the cookie on the right that started cooking on a cool cookie sheet.
If this happens, they will still be delicious, they just won’t be as pretty.
Once the cookies have cooled, you pipe melted white chocolate onto them.
These cookies are slightly chewy and have a wonderful light molasses flavor to them.
Now, you could stop here, or you could take them one step further and turn them into whoopie pies. My personal opinion is that so many good things in life could be made even better with cream cheese frosting, and molasses cookies are no exception.
Seriously, how can you lose when you sandwich rich creamy cream cheese frosting between two soft molasses cookies? You can’t, unless you don’t like cream cheese frosting, and if that’s the case, I don’t know if we can be friends…
Soft Molasses Cookies or Molasses Whoopie Pies
Adapted from the Family Favorites From Country Kitchens cookbook
Makes about 6 dozen cookies or 3 dozen whoopie pies
3/4 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/2 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
1 teaspoons vanilla
2 tablespoons molasses
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups flour, sifted
1 cup white chocolate chips
FROSTING: (only if you are making whoopie pies)
1/2 cup butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease several cookie sheets.
2. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and the brown sugar together until the texture becomes light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating the batter well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla.
3. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the molasses and the baking soda. Add to the creamed mixture in the large mixing bowl. Stir in the flour 1/2 cup at a time. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto the greased cookie sheets.
4. Bake in the oven for 8 minutes, or until the edges start to brown. Remove the cookies from the oven and immediately move the cookies to a cooling rack with a thin spatula. Let the cookies cool completely.
5. When the cookies have cooled completely, melt the white chocolate chips in a double boiler.* Pipe the melted chocolate onto the cooled cookies in whatever design you desire. Let the chocolate harden. Stop here for regular soft molasses cookies, or continue with steps 6 and 7 to make molasses whoopie pies.
6. Now make the frosting. In a medium bowl, combine the butter, cream cheese, confectioner’s sugar, and vanilla. Beat the mixture together until it is smooth and creamy.
7. Spread the flat side (bottom) of one of the cookies with a generous amount of frosting. Top with another cookie, pressing down gently to distribute the frosting evenly. Repeat with all of the cookies.
* How to melt chocolate in a double boiler: Place a glass or metal bowl over a pan of hot but not boiling water, making sure that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Place the chocolate chips in the bowl. As the chocolate starts to melt, stir it occasionally to mix the unmelted pieces into the melted chocolate. When it is completely melted the chocolate should have a smooth glossy texture. Do not allow any water or steam to get into the melting chocolate because this can cause it to seize or harden.