Five-Spice Molasses Cookies

Five-Spice Molasses Cookies
(Photography by Joe Schmelzer / Recipe development and food styling by Rebecca Firth)

Rebecca Firth’s (of the blog DisplacedHousewife) Five-Spice Molasses Cookies are Editor-in-Chief Brian Hart Hoffman’s favorite recipe from the November/December issue! Muscovado, an unprocessed cane sugar, found in these cookies is perfect for holiday baking. It lends flavors of molasses, toffee, and caramel that pair wonderfully with a little hit of Chinese five-spice. That rich trio of tastes is the perfect contrast to the spicy notes of cloves, cinnamon, and Szechuan peppercorn found in the blend. Muscovado, which has the consistency of wet sand, has a tendency to clump, so break up any large lumps when creaming it with the butter. Want more Chinese five-spice? Find more recipes in our November/December 2017 issue, out now! 

5.0 from 4 reviews
Five-Spice Molasses Cookies
Makes 24
  • ½ cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup (110 grams) firmly packed dark muscovado*
  • ½ cup (100 grams) granulated sugar, divided
  • ⅓ cup (75 grams) sunflower seed or other neutral oil
  • ⅓ cup (113 grams) unsulphured molasses
  • 2 large eggs (100 grams), room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon (13 grams) vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups (188 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (127 grams) bread flour
  • 1 tablespoon (6 grams) ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons (10 grams) baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons (4 grams) Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1 teaspoon (2 grams) ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon (3 grams) kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon (1 gram) ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon (1 gram) ground cardamom
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, muscovado, ¼ cup (50 grams) granulated sugar, and oil at medium speed until fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, stopping to scrape sides of bowl. With mixer on low speed, add molasses, eggs, and vanilla, beating until combined.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, ginger, baking soda, five-spice powder, cinnamon, salt, cloves, and cardamom. Fold flour mixture into butter mixture just until combined. Wrap dough tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 3 days. (This dough is sticky; do not skip this step.)
  3. Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C), and place rack in top third of oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  4. Place remaining ¼ cup (50 grams) granulated sugar in a shallow bowl. Using a 1-tablespoon scoop, scoop dough, and roll into balls. Roll balls in granulated sugar, coating completely. Place 2 inches apart on prepared pan.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes. (You want to slightly undercook these.) Let cool on pan for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from pan, and let cool completely on wire racks.
*You can easily substitute dark brown sugar for the muscovado.


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  1. Haven’t made the cookies yet, but really appreciate the listing of weights by grams. I have come to use that in all my baking and find I have more success doing that than when using cups and measuring spoons.

  2. Just baked them this morning, mixed the dough yesterday, put it in the refrigerator overnight. O my goodness, they are really wonderful, don’t know if it is the five-spice or the cardamom or all of the spices combined with the molasses. Doesn’t matter! By the way, it made 4-1/2 dozen using the #70 scoop, which is about 1 tablespoon and instead of using granulated sugar I used raw sugar crystals.

  3. Szechuan peppercorn are mentioned in the introduction, but are absent from the ingredient list. Could you please tell me how much is needed?
    Thanks a lot, especially if you answer such a belated question. 🙂

    • Hi Mapi!

      Thanks for reaching out! The Chinese five-spice powder already includes Szechuan peppercorn, so you do not need to add any extra. Happy baking!

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