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.
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
- Preheat oven to 325. Combine flour, powdered sugar, and spices in a large bowl.
- Cut in butter with a pastry blender or your fingers, until mixture resembles fine crumbs.
- With a fork or your hands mix in the molasses. Knead until mixture forms a ball and divide in half.
- Roll ¼ to ½” thick and cut into shapes.
- Prick with the tines of a fork, brush with a little milk and sprinkle with granulated sugar.
- 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: