Tender inside and slightly crisp at the edges, these Ginger Molasses Cookies are the ultimate Christmas Cookie thanks to my grandma's recipe. I turn them into the cutest Gingerbread Caramel Thumbprint Cookies, but you can leave them as-is for a classic holiday treat.
For the cookies:
- 3/4 cup butter, room temperature (1.5 sticks/6 ounces)
- 3/4 cup vegetable shortening, room temperature
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
- 4 cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 3 teaspoons ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
For Gingerbread Caramel Sauce:
- 1/2 cup water
- 1.5 cups brown sugar
- 1.5 cups granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup molasses
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1.5 sticks cold butter (12 tablespoons), cut into small pieces
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons bourbon (optional)
For the caramel filling:
- 1 cup gingerbread caramel, very hot
- 12 ounces white chocolate chips
To prepare Gingerbread Caramel Sauce (this will make more than you need for this recipe but it is so good and makes a wonderful gift)
- Combine molasses, water, and sugar in a heavy, large pot over medium-high heat. Stir until sugar dissolves.
- Bring to a boil and cook until you reach 250 degrees F on a candy thermometer.
- Remove from heat and whisk in cream, butter, salt, and spices.
- Stir until all butter is melted and combined.
- Return to heat and allow to boil for another 2-3 minutes.
- Remove from heat, add bourbon if using.
- Reserve one cup for this recipe.
- Allow the rest to cool to room temperature before transferring to jars, Store in refrigerator.
To make Caramel Filling:
Prepare Gingerbread Caramel Sauce *see notes below. Combine one cup of very hot caramel sauce with one bag of white chocolate chips in a medium sized mixing bowl. Allow to sit for 5 minutes and then stir or whisk to combine. If the filling sets before you have all the cookies made, just give it 30 seconds in the microwave to loosen back up.
To prepare Cookie Dough:
- In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter, shortening, and sugar until creamy and fluffy, this will take about 5-7 minutes on medium-high speed.
- Next, add molasses, vanilla, and eggs and mix well, scraping down sides and bottom as needed. It will look a little lumpy and "broken" at this stage. Don't fear.
- Add one cup of flour, baking soda, all of the spices, and salt. Mix to combine thoroughly - again scraping sides and bottom to make sure nothing is hiding from the beater. Finally, add remaining flour and mix until combined.
- Give the bowl a good scrape to make sure everything is combined. I even use my hands sometimes to really squish it all together. At this point you can proceed with cookie making, or stash this in the fridge covered tightly for 24-48 hours.
To make Thumbprint Cookies:
Scoop tablespoon-sized balls of dough (I use a cookie scoop) onto a parchment lined baking sheet about 1.5 inches apart. If desired, roll in granulated sugar or sprinkles. Bake for 8 minutes at 350 degrees F. Remove from oven and using a small, round 1/2 teaspoon, make an indentation in each cookie while still hot. Leave to cool and proceed with the rest of your dough in the same manner.
Fill each indentation with a small amount, about 1/2 teaspoon, of gingerbread caramel mixture. Allow to set at room temperature until filling is firm. This will take about 2 hours. If desired, while filling is still warm sprinkle tops with your favorite Christmas sprinkles.
To make Regular Cookies:
Scoop 2-tablespoons of dough (I use a cookie scoop) onto a parchment lined baking sheet leaving 1.5 inches between. If desired roll dough balls in granulated sugar or sprinkles. Bake for 9-10 minutes at 350 degrees F.
You can make the gingerbread caramel sauce from scratch (and you should - it is amazing!), or you can use store bought caramel sauce and just add the spices to it and proceed with the caramel filling recipe as written.
I did update the original Anita's recipe just a bit by changing the spice proportions and adding vanilla.
The recipe yield will depend on what size cookies you make. You'll get less if you make all large cookies and more if you make the smaller thumbprints (I get 120 exactly when I make the small thumbprints using my 1-tablespoon cookie scoop). My grandma's original recipe card gives a yield of 100 cookies which sounds like a lot, but they make wonderful gifts and freeze well.
- Prep Time: 40 minutes
- Cook Time: 10 minutes
- Category: cookies, Christmas Cookies
- Method: baking
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: ginger molasses cookies, christmas cookies, gingerbread caramel thumbprint cookies