Do you have any treasured recipes that you know will stand the test of time, continuing to be passed down through generations? It takes a lot to feel that way about a recipe. Food trends come and go, but it’s the quiet classics that often become our true favorites. That’s how I feel about these Swedish Spice cookies. My parents discovered them from the 1995 Chicago Tribune holiday cookie contest and we’ve never looked back. We still pull out the same newspaper clipping of the recipe each year, which is beginning to yellow with time. How is 1995 almost 20 years ago?
These cookies might appear unassuming, but looks can be deceiving. With warming spices like clove, ginger and cinnamon, these cookies are bursting with flavor and have a very festive feel to them. They’re incredibly soft, but the sugar coating gives them a hint of crunch for a nice contrast. And as someone who never feels great after intense sugar highs, I appreciate that these aren’t overly sweet cookies. In my mind, they’re the perfect Christmas cookie.
- 2¼ cups flour, sifted before measuring
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon each: ground cloves, ginger, cinnamon and salt
- ¾ cup unsalted butter, softened (1½ sticks)
- 1 cup sugar (plus additional ½ cup sugar for coating)
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup molasses
- Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
- In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and spices.
- Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and one cup of sugar together in a separate bowl for about one minute. Add egg and molasses and beat until fully mixed.
- Stop the electric mixer and stir in the flour mixture.
- Put the remaining ½ cup sugar in a small bowl. Roll dough into balls (about 1 and ½ teaspoons of dough each) and coat in the sugar mixture before placing on a greased cookie sheet.
- Bake for 9-10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.
Note: recipe from 1995 edition of the Chicago Tribune cookie competition.
These look amazing and I am for sure making them this weekend. We’ve got a latke recipe that we’ve been using since forever but no cookie ones to be found.
Also I think it is a factor of growing up in the 90s, but when I am calculating someone’s age or years since event X, I always seem to use 2000 as a placemarker. Except that was 15 years ago, get with the times, Adam.
That’s so exciting, Adam! Let me know what you think of them. If the weather in Michigan is anything like Chicago’s today, it will be a great weekend to hibernate and bake cookies.
To me, these are truly the perfect Christmas cookies, probably because of the spices. There’s something that’s just a bit old fashioned about cloves…it makes me think of Victorian scenes and St. Nicholas instead of Santa Claus. And these cookies really do melt in your mouth. I hope your readers try them, Julia–they will love them!
I definitely know what you mean about the cloves having an old-fashioned feel to them. I don’t think cloves are used often enough, which is one of the reasons these cookies are so unique. I think I’m making another batch tomorrow!
Traci | Vanilla And Bean says
I love time honored recipes; they never go out of style. What a fabulous tradition, Julia! And although these demure cookies look unassuming, I can tell by the ingredients, and the hint of sugar on top that they taste amazing! It’s the magic ingredient of molasses! Thank you for sharing your family’s recipe, Julia! (IDK how 1995 was 20 years ago – whaaaa???).
Traci, you are so right about the molasses! It makes these cookies so incredibly soft and gives them a subtle sweetness. I can’t wait to try out your chocolate shortbread recipe 🙂
geraldine | Green Valley Kitchen says
I just love cookies like these – a little bit of spice and molasses make them so special. Looking forward to trying these, Julia, but first I have to go to the store and get some molasses!
Thanks, Geraldine! I hope you enjoy them. It’s probably the only time each year that I use molasses – good thing it never seems to go bad!
Oh I love recipes like this … we have two cookies that are family recipes that we must make every christmas! These look absolutely gorgeous – I love those sorta crackled tops!
Thanks, Ashley! Aren’t family recipes the best around the holidays? And yes – I love the crackled tops of these cookies too!
Amanda Paa says
I love old, tried and true recipes! And the memories that go with them. Ginger cookies are always a favorite of mine, especially the smell that fills the house. And you totally nailed it with the soft chewiness, but crunchy sugar coating. xo
Amanda, you are right – the smell of ginger cookies is one of the most amazing things! And you make a great point about the memories that we associate with family recipes. That’s what makes them so special!
The Christmas season, for many, begins when their decorations are all up and looking good. For many fewer, it’s when the retailers switch from Halloween displays to fir trees and snow flakes. But for me, it’s when I get the first whiff of those magnificent cookies fresh from the oven. Every memory that smell triggers is a good one. And the taste is even better!
I agree – baking these cookies is the true sign of Christmas coming! They’ve got to be one of my favorite-smelling foods out there, too. I hope you got enough this year, considering there was a new cookie monster in the house who had three in one sitting!
I think three is the recommended serving size. In fact, that may be the minimum for a man in his twenties. 🙂
Becky Nelson says
THE RECIPE SAYS 1/4 MOLASSES – IS THAT 1/4 CUP?
Hi Becky – yes, 1/4 cup molasses. Thanks for catching that – I have updated the recipe!
I used the suggested change to add Cardamom. I also substituted:
1. Brown sugar for white
2. Unsweetened applesauce for the butter
3. A pastry-ground whole wheat flour (Bronze chief) from Wheat Montana for the all purpose flour
Result? Amazing taste and relatively low calories. When dough is portioned out to make 42 cookies, they are only 47 calories each!