Morgan Davy’s (Grandma’s) Soft Molasses Cookies

This recipe was submitted for entry in our Holiday Heritage Recipe Contest. To view all the entered recipes and read their heritage stories, click on the photo below.

Grandma’s molasses cookies are an absolute staple at every Christmas gathering with my family; a soft cookie base with a stiff, bright white frosting. Our family waits all year to have them, and they never disappoint. I think part of what makes them so special is the work that goes into them. Basically, they take two days to make since the batter has to chill in the fridge overnight. These are once-a-year treats that my grandma lovingly made each December.

I love these cookies so much that for several years I froze one at Christmas so I could eat it on my birthday five months later. When I got married two years ago, I asked one of my aunts to make a huge batch to serve at my wedding. These are special cookies.

A few years ago, my grandmother’s dementia worsened and she moved into the nursing home. A day before that next Christmas, my aunt texted me, just realizing that there would be no molasses cookies that year and it was too late to make them. I replied, “Way ahead of you,” as I pulled the last batch out of the oven.

Grandma’s Soft Molasses Cookies

1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 cup shortening
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup molasses
3 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon powdered ginger (ground)
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Cream the sugar and shortening in a stand mixer. Add the eggs, buttermilk and molasses and mix again. Sift soda, ginger and cinnamon with a small amount of flour and add to the mixture. Keep adding flour until the dough is firm. Store dough in the refrigerator overnight.

In the morning, roll out the dough out to approximately 1/4″ thick, using as little flour as possible. Cut with a round cookie cutter and bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Frost with the recipe below.


1 envelope Knox gelatin
1 1/4 cups water
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Soften one envelope Knox gelatin in 1/2 cup cold water. Set aside. Boil 3/4 cup water and 2 cups sugar to 260 degrees. Add gelatin mixture to syrup, beating until it holds peaks. Stir in vanilla.

Submitted by Morgan Davy of Fargo, ND

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