Dark Cocoa Molasses Cookies

I love to decorate cookies… And, typically my cookie of choice is a standard vanilla bean sugar cookie. My sugar cookies are both tasty and sturdy, two important qualities in a cookie!

This time of year, though, I start to get antsy and feel the need to break out of the usual sugar cookie mold. Instead, I start to dream of spices and molasses. I have a thing for dark molasses. I could drink it straight from the jar. I don’t, but I could. So, when I decided to make some Halloween cookies last week (since I hadn’t really done anything festive up to that point), I decided to play around with some molasses.

Instead of just making my usual gingerbread cookies (which are another tasty and sturdy favorite for decorating… especially around the holidays!), I decided to go a slightly different route. With gingerbread as my guide, I decided to add some dark cocoa into the mix. I have seen chocolate gingerbread cakes before, so I figured I could make it work for cookies. And, it did.

These cookies are slightly chewy but still quite sturdy, much like the texture of my gingerbread cookies. And, they aren’t too sweet. You can taste both the dark cocoa and the dark molasses in the cookies. Plus, I threw in some cinnamon for a bit of spice. Everything this time of year can use a little cinnamon, right?

Overall, I was pleased with how the cookies turned out, and I loved the dark color for Halloween cookies. I think they’d be a fun substitute for traditional gingerbread if you want to mix things up a bit for Christmas. While I haven’t given up on my always popular vanilla bean and gingerbread cookies, you can be sure there will be some more dark cocoa molasses cookies making an appearance in my kitchen this year.

Dark Cocoa Molasses Cookies
Makes about 2 1/2 dozen 3-inch cookies, adapted from the King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion)

  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup lightly packed dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup dark molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup dark cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat.  Add the brown sugar and continue to cook for a few minutes to dissolve and melt the sugar. Remove from the heat and stir in the molasses.  Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and let cool to lukewarm/room temperature.  Once the mixture has cooled, beat in the egg.

Meanwhile, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl. Gradually add the flour mixture to the mixing bowl, beating on low speed until just combined.  Divide the dough into four equal parts, shape each one into a disc and wrap with plastic wrap. Transfer to the freezer for about 30 minutes, until the dough is cool to the touch.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon liner. Set aside.

Roll each disc of dough out on a lightly floured surface to approximately 1/4-inch thickness. Use cookie cutters to cut shapes from the dough and transfer them to the baking sheet. Bake for approximately 10 – 12 minutes.  Cool on the pan for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.

Please Note – The link to the King Arthur Cookie Companion provided in this post is an Amazon affiliate link.

22 Responses to Dark Cocoa Molasses Cookies

  1. Gorgeous, gorgeous. This makes me uber excited to start decorating ginger cookies for the holidays. The details on your cookies are amazing – from the colours to the wee extra touches. You are a royal icing master.

  2. Last year someone brought me some molasses cookies and I loved them. These look great and I know will be a great addition to the holiday table! Thanks Jen!
    Happy Halloween!

  3. I love the sound of this recipe Jen and your decorating skills are wonderful. Love the haunted houses and all the details you put into them.

  4. I can attest to just how gorgeous (and delicious!) these cookies are, being a lucky recipient of some…although I think they are even more beautiful in person! Thank you so much Jen, they are amazing and you are the sweetest!! :-D

  5. I LOVE molasses cookies and I love the addition of dark cocoa powder in yours. You are so incredibly talented at decorating cookies. I’m in awe. :)

  6. Your cookies look so pretty! I am looking at them and how I miss my dollhouses back in gradeschool. I love the effect of neon green decors with pink and all those pretty colors you used. Everything looks so dainty. I am sure they are tasty too, but i don’t think I can bite into and ruin something this beautiful…Thanks for sharing your lovely post!

  7. Whoa, mama! These look amazing…where were you this Halloween at my farmers market booth (I needed you!) I love the addition of cocoa in these; I would’ve never thought to do so. Happy weekend, Jen!

  8. I made these today and wanted to leave a review. The dough comes together well and because there are 3 sticks of butter, instead of 2, it is very slick and oily feeling on the hand.

    I’ve already started my Halloween baking and these came out very cute. They kept their shape well and I decorated them to look like jack o lanterns and skeletons. I wish I could attach photos because they were adorable.

    However, if you are baking for a group of kids I recommend that you reconsider this recipe. The molasses and dark chocolate combination that I liked so much (my favorite cookie is a gingerbread cookie dipped in chocolate) was not at all appealing to my nieces, ages 2 and 4. They licked off the icing but they didn’t have much use for the cookie. The adults who tried this cookie seemed to like them, although they did comment that there was some kind of interesting taste they could not describe. I liked the cookie very much, but I don’t think I’ll make them again. I’ll probably go with my regular chocolate cut out cookie recipe.