These soft and chewy gluten free molasses cookies are perfect for lunchboxes or to enjoy with a cup of hot cider.
Remember Archway Cookies? Those white, plastic-covered packages, 4 or 5 stacks of perfectly round, perfectly soft cookies. A wee bit darker on the outside, soft and pale on the inside, with just the right amount of spice to make them taste just like fall feels.
My gluten free son remembers none of this, since he’s been eating a gluten free diet for as long as he can remember. But I remember them, and I want him to enjoy something just like them. And maybe you miss them, too?
What gives these cookies their texture?
Typically, soft and chewy cookies get their texture from a fair amount of butter, but these gluten free molasses cookies have only 4 tablespoons of butter in the whole batch. Their texture, instead, comes in part from what gives them a lot of their flavor (and their name): molasses.
When you bake with brown sugar instead of granulated sugar, you typically get a softer cookie. But that’s because brown sugar isn’t unrefined white sugar.
Brown sugar is granulated sugar with molasses added to it. Here, we use 3/4 cup of granulated sugar, and add 1/4 cup (or 4 tablespoons) molasses to the recipe. It gives the cookies tons of texture and flavor.
How to handle this very soft cookie dough
Since this cookie dough has so much molasses, it tends to be relatively sticky. I like to portion it with a #50 ice cream scoop, but it’s sticky enough that it can be challenging to get all of the dough off the scoop mechanism.
If you’re having trouble scooping the dough or removing the portions from your scoop, try chilling the dough a bit. You do want it to be room temperature when the baking sheet goes into the oven, though, so let it warm up at room temperature a bit before baking.
Once the portions are on the baking sheet, moisten your hands to roll each portion into a ball, then flatten it into a disk. The moisture will create a barrier between your hands and dough, and keep it from sticking.
Ingredients and substitutions
The dairy in these cookies comes only from the 4 tablespoons of butter. If you are dairy-free, I’d recommend trying to replace the butter with vegan butter like Miyoko’s Kitchen or Melt brand.
I don’t recommend using Earth Balance buttery sticks in place of butter, since they contain too much moisture. The cookies are already soft and spread just the right amount. More moisture would lead to more spread, in an unpleasant way.
There are two whole eggs in this recipe, and they are a very important part of the texture and structure. You could try replacing each with one “chia egg” (1 tablespoon ground white chia seeds + 1 tablespoon lukewarm water, mixed and allowed to gel), but I’m not super optimistic.
Gluten Free Molasses Cookies | Soft and Chewy
1 1/2 cups (210 g) all purpose gluten free flour (I used Better Batter)
3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar
4 tablespoons (56 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 tablespoons (84 g) unsulphured molasses
2 eggs (100 g, weighed out of shell) at room temperature, beaten
Preheat your oven to 325°F. Line rimmed baking sheets with unbleached parchment paper and set them aside.
In a large bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum, baking soda, salt, ground cloves, ground ginger, ground allspice, ground cinnamon and granulated sugar, and whisk to combine well. Add the butter, molasses, and eggs, mixing to combine after each addition. The dough will come together and be thick but soft.
Divide the dough into 18 to 24 parts with a spoon or small ice cream scoop, depending on how large you’d like the cookies. They’ll spread at least 1-inch during baking. With moistened hands, roll each portion of dough into a ball, and place on the prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart. With wet fingers, flatten the balls of dough into disks about 1/4 inch thick.
Place the baking sheet in the center of the preheated oven and bake until golden brown around the edges, light brown on top and mostly firm on the top to the touch (about 10 minutes). Allow the cookies to cool completely on the baking sheet before serving. They will be fragile when warm, but will become firm once cool.
Originally published on the blog in 2012. Recipe unchanged; most text and photos new.