These super soft and chewy molasses cookies with easy bourbon french buttercream are a dream of warm spices and custardy frosting.
What are molasses cookies, and why bake with molasses?
Molasses cookies are wonderful cookies that include molasses. Molasses is a dark syrup leftover from the sugar-making process. Sugar is essentially made from the juice of mashed sugar cane. Once the juice is boiled, sugar crystals form and are removed. The crystals are what we use as sugar, and molasses is what is leftover. It's dark, sweet, and bitter, and wonderful in baked goods.
Molasses cookies use molasses to provide a deep and slightly bitter flavor to the cookies. This bitterness, when coupled with brown sugar and warm wintery spices, is absolutely delicious.
The importance of chilling cookie dough:
Chilling the dough is always vital to any good cookie dough, but especially so when there are liquid ingredients like molasses. Chilling helps the dough firm up so that the cookies keep their shape when baking, but it also helps the dough rest and develop its flavor. If you want cookies with a lot of flavor, chill the dough as long as possible.
What is french buttercream, and why is it different?
I chose french buttercream to top off these cookies because of it's similarity to custard. This buttercream is not overly sweet, and taste likes a wonderful custard. It's made up of hot sugar syrup, egg yokes, and butter, opposed to egg whites used in Italian and swiss meringue buttercream.
How to use this buttercream:
This buttercream recipe is less firm than most because of the added bourbon. If you do want delightfully messy sandwich cookies, pipe the buttercream on one cookie and then top it with another. Or if you want elegant molasses cookies, just top each one off with piped french buttercream rosettes.
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for the cookies:
- 2 ¼ cups flour
- 1 ½ tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ginger
- ½ tsp cloves
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¾ cup butter
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup molasses
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 tsp bourbon
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar for rolling
for the buttercream:
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons water
- 5 egg yokes
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 tbsp bourbon
- Beat the butter and sugar together in a stand mixer until light and fluffy (about 3-5 minutes).
- Wisk together the flour, baking soda, spices, and salt in a medium bowl.
- Beat the egg, molasses, vanilla, and bourbon into the butter and sugar mixture.
- Slowly beat in half of the flour mixture. Mix until combined, and then add in the remaining flour and mix until just combined.
- Cover the bowl in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour.
- Once chilled, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Roll the dough into 1 ¼ inch balls and roll each ball into the granulated sugar.
- Placed the balls 3 inches apart onto baking sheets and bake for 14-15 minutes.
For the French buttercream:
- Combine the water and sugar together in a small or medium saucepan and melt on low heat. Once the sugar has melted, turn the heat up to medium-high heat. Cook until the sugar reaches the soft ball stage or gets to 240 degrees.
- While the sugar is heating, beat the egg yokes until they are light and foamy.
- Once the sugar reaches 240 degrees, quickly add it to the egg yokes and beat until the bowl has cooled. About 5-6 minutes.
- Add in the butter 1 tablespoon at a time and beat thoroughly between each tablespoon.
- Finally, add in the vanilla and bourbon and beat for another 5 minutes.
- For the assembly, if you are going to serve right away and want delicious messy cookie sandwiches, pipe the buttercream onto one cookie and top it off with another. If you want more long-lasting and elegant cookies, pipe a rosette on top of each cookie.