Ginger shortbread with molasses – a holiday classic with a twist

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Molasses ginger shortbread

Ever since I was a kid one of my favourite holiday treats has been my mom’s ginger shortbread squares. Soft, buttery and loaded with candied and ground ginger they are the first thing I look for on a plate of Christmas cookies at my mom’s.

I never believed that they could be improved upon until I came across this recipe for ginger shortbread with molasses. Adding a bit of molasses and a few more spices to a classic shortbread cookie makes them taste unmistakably like Christmas.

And their simplicity stands out amidst all of the over-the-top cookies and squares that are popular at cookie swaps. They may not look as snazzy as say, triple layer marshmallow snicker-doodle squares, but they are distinct in their own quiet way.

“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret. It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.”

― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

Not that a cookie can’t really teach life’s great moral lessons, but I do believe that simplicity is key to the true substance of the holidays.

Ditto for cookies.

As with any shortbread cookie, I prefer to use my hands to pull the dough together after the butter has been cut in. That way the dough doesn’t get over mixed.

Shortbread-cookies-boxed - sm

Ginger shortbread with molasses

Adapted from Threadbare Bakery blog

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (optional)
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves (optional)
  • 1 cup cold butter
  • ¼ cup Grandma Fancy Molasses
  • granulated sugar for sprinkling
  1. Preheat oven to 325. Combine flour, powdered sugar, and spices in a large bowl.
  2. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or your fingers, until mixture resembles fine crumbs.
  3. With a fork or your hands mix in the molasses. Knead until mixture forms a ball and divide in half.
  4. Roll ¼ to ½” thick and cut into shapes.
  5. Prick with the tines of a fork, brush with a little milk and sprinkle with granulated sugar.
  6. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until bottoms just start to turn golden brown (be careful not to overcook)

The dough will look crumbly like this, but keep working it (I use my fingers):

Before you know it your dough will come together, like this:

You can roll it out immediately or pat it into tidy packages and refrigerate:

12 thoughts on “Ginger shortbread with molasses – a holiday classic with a twist

  1. Irma Isnor says:

    Grandma Molasses molasses has been used by my family for many years.When I lived in Halifax 23 years ago I was using it then too.Crispy gingersnaps, and sugared ginger cookies were two of my boys favorite cookies. I was using Grandma Molasses molasses way back. In wartime, Mom used to bake war cake with Grandma Molasses molasses. Great product-2 containers sitting on a kitchen shelf right now. I will try your molasses shortbread. Thanks for the recipe.Now I am baking for my grandson.

    1. Bridget says:

      Hi Irma, I love that you’re continuing the molasses tradition with your grandson. I hope that you enjoy the shortbread.

  2. Carol says:

    Hi, I just made the Molasses shortbread cookies and they are just wonderful. I will share this with everyone that i know. My mom has one of the Crosbys molasses cookbooks from when I was a child. This book must be atleast 40 or 50 yrs old and she still uses it even though it is worn out.

    1. Bridget says:

      Hi Carol, I’m so pleased that you like the molasses shortbread. And I love that your mom still uses her old Grandma Molasses cookbook. Would you like us to send her a new one? If yes, just email me with her mailing address (bridget.oland@crosbys.com).

  3. Glory says:

    My two most favorite cookies in one recipe! This is definitely going into my Christmas baking collection. I can’t wait to make these! Oh, and I would be interested in a cookbook as well. Where could I find one? ~ Glory

    1. Bridget says:

      Hi Glory – Just email me with your mailing address and we’ll send you a cookbook. I’m at bridget.oland@crosbys.com

  4. Ann Brennan says:

    would love your cookbook.i have a old crosby cookbook that is over 40 yrs old. love baking and cooking with mollasses. thank you. 47 Steels Hill Road
    Glace Bay
    Nova Scotia
    B1A 2V7

    1. Bridget says:

      Hi Ann,
      We’d be happy to mail you a copy of our Family Favourites cookbook. You should receive it within a couple of weeks.

  5. Patrticia Boucher says:

    Hi, I would also love to receive a copy of your cookbook. I have tried a few of your recipes and I love what I have tried so far. I am anxious to try these Molasses Shortbread Cookies. My address is:
    457 McLellan Ave
    Amherstburg, Ontario
    N9V 4E1
    Thank you.

    1. Bridget Oland says:

      Hi Patricia, We’d be happy to get a copy of our book in the mail to you. Enjoy!

  6. Misty says:

    Im going to try this recipe but try to make them using the whipped shortbread method! I love the flavours of gingerbread but find it a little hard and dry so this shoetbread version should be perfect

    1. Bridget Oland says:

      Hi Misty, I hope you enjoy the shortbread. It’s a treat to have the molasses flavour in a buttery cookie.

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