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Pearl sugar–hands down one of the best Scandinavian inventions ever–is one of the primary reasons why I am proud to be Norwegian.

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People know within a few weeks of meeting me (okay, a few days) that I am Norwegian. This is because my heritage is the excuse reason behind many of the quirks of my personality.

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My pale skin? Norwegian. My bizarre love of cold weather? That Scandinavian blood. My obsession with cardamom? A childhood of baked goods filled with it.

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My love of pearl sugar? Yes. Norwegian.

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I love chewy cookies. I’m not big on raw dough, but an undercooked cookie is my kind of baked good. But every so often even I need some variety in texture. (Check out the cooking lingo I’m learning from Top Chef Desserts!) That is why pearl sugar is genius. It holds its crunch and bright glowy whiteness when baked. And you probably know this, but it is pretty difficult to make a cookie that is crunchy-crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside.

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That is where substituting pearl sugar for regular sugar is a genius move: you get the undercooked, thick, dense texture, the intense dark-molasses-brown-sugar-cinnamon-cloves-ginger-allspice flavor, and a super-sweet crunch of sugar every time you take a bite.

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So until I can visit the fjords and northern lights of my ancestral homeland, I will just make some molasses cookies. I’m pretty sure the history of this recipe has nothing at all to do with my Norwegian heritage, but I don’t care: adding pearl sugar makes them Scandinavian enough for me.

Pearl Sugar Molasses Cookies
Adapted from The New Best Recipe
Pearl sugar idea from Hungry Girl Por Vida
Makes about 22-24 cookies

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp finely ground black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened but still cool
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup dark molasses
About 1/2 cup pearl sugar

Adjust oven rack to middle position. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Whisk flour, baking soda, spices, pepper, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

In a stand mixer, beat butter and sugars together at medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low and add yolk and vanilla; beat until combined (about 20 seconds) and scrape down sides with a spatula. Add molasses and beat until fully incorporated (again about 20 seconds) and scrape down sides again. Add flour mixture and beat until just incorporated, about 30 seconds. Scrape the bowl again. The dough will be thick and soft.

Place pearl sugar in a bowl for rolling. Scoop dough by the tablespoon–it’s easiest to use a cookie scoop–and roll completely in pearl sugar, gently pressing to adhere the sugar to the ball of dough. Place on prepared baking sheet 2 inches apart (cookies will spread).

Bake about 11 minutes, until cookies are browned and still puffy, with cracks revealing what seems to be raw dough. Remove from oven, place pan on wire cooling rack, and allow cookies to cool on the pan for at least 5 minutes. Do not overbake; residual heat from the oven will finish these cookies off and leave you with a chewy, deliciously underbaked center. After their cooling time, cookies may be removed and cooled to room temperature.

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  • http://www.hungrygirlporvida.com cindy

    I love pearl sugar…though I cannot say it’s because I am Scandinavian (I’m not, but my best friends are!). These cookies sounds like cold-weather perfection!

  • http://baking.we-wish.net Chelsea

    Cindy, thank you so much for your comment, and of course your pearl sugar + molasses inspiration! (PS: I love your blog–the photos and recipes always look so gorgeous and delicious.)

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  • Gabriella Miyares

    So I baked these but substituted turbinado for pearl sugar… brought them into the office and they were a huge hit! I can’t resist spice cookies once it’s fall. Thanks so much for the recipe!

  • Laura

    Wow! I found your recipe while searching for other ways to use the pearl sugar I bought for coating chouquettes. These are far and away the BEST molasses cookies I have ever tasted. And they look so pretty! I know what I’ll be baking to give away at Christmas this year. Thanks so much for the recipe :).

  • Jean

    I also found your recipe while trying to decide what to do with my pearl sugar. (I bought it not having a clue, but knowing I’d find something…) I’m joining a cookie exchange next week, and these cookies sound like they’ll be a hit! Many thanks.

  • Jean

    Well…I brought these to the cookie exchange, and they were indeed a hint. One note, though: these made far more than 22-24 cookies. More like 36 cookies, and they spread enough that you really shouldn’t put more than 12/sheet. (It was funny, though – *everyone* at the cookie exchange mentioned that their cookies spread out more than usual, which makes me think it was something atmospheric.) But the taste and look of the cookies were just lovely. I would make these again!

  • chelseakelly

    Thanks Jean! I’m glad they were overall good! I appreciate knowing the yield was a bit different for you. Mine didn’t spread much at all, so maybe it was indeed something in the atmosphere! I know your comment will help other readers so thanks for coming back and sharing!!

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