There’s something about the holidays drawing closer that makes me cling to food memories more than any other time of the year. Lately, I’ve been thinking about my great grandma Ruth who passed away 15 years ago.
My memories of my Grandma Ruth are pretty scattered. My parents divorced when I was really little, so when my mom married my stepdad (whom I call daddy), his family became my family. Grandma Ruth always treated me as a member of the family – I never felt like I didn’t belong in her life; I just always felt loved.
I have tons of memories of playing outside in her beautiful backyard, walking to her house (which was like a block from our old house before we moved out of Portland), and playing in her downstairs basement. But my most vivid memory (which is probably why it’s also my favorite) is the one time she took me to go play Bingo at her senior citizens’ center. I was little, probably no more than four or five years old, and she was so excited to take me to play. When we got there, the older people in charge weren’t going to allow me to come inside, let alone play, because I wasn’t a senior citizen, too. Grandma Ruth didn’t put up with things like that, and I got the impression that she was someone they all looked up to, because when they said I couldn’t play, then she said she wasn’t going to play. So we turned around and started for the door, when they instantly changed their minds and said I could play Bingo…just this one time. That was enough for us! I ended up winning a Bingo, claiming my loaf of cinnamon swirl bread, and we both went back to her house, very happy.
We celebrated our little victory with her amazing molasses cookies, which she always seemed to have already baked in her house.
These cookies are soft, cakey, and full of sweet molasses spice. My favorite way to eat them is by dunking them in a glass of milk and taking a bite. Every bite just brings me back to her house, where I would sit on her couch that was facing her beautiful white fireplace with a napkin and a glass of milk while looking through one of the kids’ books she always kept on the side table.
These cookies are literally a memory of her and how special she was to our entire family. I hope you enjoy these cookies as much as I enjoyed making them and reliving many moments that I shared with her.
Recipe by Chelsia Rief
Soft molasses cookies baked with cinnamon, clove, ginger, and nutmeg rolled in sugar-holiday cookies that are uniquely special.
Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 7 min per batch
Total time: approx 1 hr 25 min
Yield: approx 66 cookies
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup shortening
- 1 cup molasses
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup hot water
- 3 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp ginger
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 6 cups all purpose flour
- additional flour as needed
- bowl of sugar to roll cookies into
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Using your stand mixer with a paddle attachment, combine eggs, shortening, molasses, and sugar into a large bowl. In a small bowl, dissolve the baking soda into the hot water. Pour the hot water mixture into the large mixing bowl and mix until combined. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, spices, and salt and stir with a whisk until all the spices are evenly incorporated. Pour 1/2 of the bowl of flour and spices into the bowl with the wet ingredients, mixing with the paddle attachment until well incorporated. Then mix in the rest of the flour. This dough is a very wet, sticky dough. If you can’t roll out a small hunk of dough into your hand, add a bit more flour by tablespoons, mixing after each addition. Place the bowl of dough covered by plastic wrap into the fridge for at least 30 minutes…this will make it easier to scoop the dough.
- Using a tablespoon, scoop out the dough and roll in the palm of your hand to make a ball. Once the dough is a ball, roll it around in a bowl of sugar (like you would a snicker doodle) and place on greased cookie sheet. Take a glass and flatten the sugar dipped cookie. (Repeat until you are out of dough.)
- Bake in your pre-heated oven for 7 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool before transferring them to a cooling rack.
*These are great cookies to bring to neighbors or to share with co-workers. This recipe makes a ton!