I grew up making these, with my mom, at Christmas. I consider them a family recipe, but I know that the “recipe” my mom and I always read from was in her handwriting on the back of an old yellowed envelope – so I have no idea where she came by it. I’ll have to ask her one day soon. Does it really matter? Nope. These delicious puffs of gingerbread softness are a delectable holiday treat, no matter what. But, in my travels around the country, I’ve discovered enough to know that these are of Southern origin, so I’m a wee bit curious who the Southerner was who gave my mom the recipe. Although, it’s possible she got the recipe from my gramma, who is not a Southerner either…..so who gave gramma the recipe?? You can see how this is driving me slowly insane.
Here’s what you need:
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. shortening <— butter will change the crumb of this cookie, so feel free, but they won’t be the same. I’m all for butter, trust me, but once in a while shortening DOES make a better cookie.
1 egg, unbeaten <—- a large egg. And I beat it, I’ll admit.
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 T. cocoa <——- I use Droste cocoa now that I’m all grown up, but we used Hershey’s when I was a kid, and it’ll work fine too.
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 c. molasses <— unsulfured, if you please.
1/2 c. strong coffee, cooled
1/2 c. raisins
1/2 c. chopped nuts
Now, listen up: If you’re one of those weirdos who doesn’t like nuts and raisins in your cookies, these aren’t the cookies for you. You can omit the nuts and raisins, but that’s just CRAZY. And that’s not a Crybaby, so don’t do it and call them Crybabies. If you do, I’ll know. Just don’t do it. Move along and make something safe and boring like a sugar cookie, ya wimp.
Finally, 2-2 1/2 c. of flour. All-purpose is just fine. Feel free to try different flours, of course.
Okay – so here’s how you do it:
Chop your nuts and measure out your raisins, put into a large measuring cup and pour your cooled coffee over them, set aside. Measure out your molasses, set aside. In a medium bowl, mix your flour, baking powder, cocoa, and spices. In a large bowl, cream your shortening and sugar. Add the egg, beat together until combined. Add the nut-raisin-coffee combo, stir to combine. Add the molasses, stir to combine. Then add in the dry ingredients and beat quickly into a batter. Don’t overdo it, just give it a good whoopin’, until it’s a nice sticky-gooey mess. (Batter should not be runny and it should not be stiff, somewhere in between.)
Here’s the deal: I always start with 2 c. of flour and only add more once it’s all mixed up, if I really think it needs it.
Using two teaspoons, NOT tablespoons, drop onto greased cookie sheet by spoonfuls. And for all you persnickety types, don’t make them pretty and exact with a cookie scoop. Seriously. There is a time and place for pretty cookies but these lumpy, irregular little gems are not pretty. It’s better this way. Just let it go.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 8-12 minutes, until done. The bottoms can burn if these cook too long, and you want them to be puffs, not crispy – so don’t overbake.
This makes almost exactly 36 cookies every single time.
I can eat 36 crybabies. I ain’t skeert. But… then there are none left over to share – so I usually double the batch.
What?? Okay – maybe I don’t eat them ALL by myself, I have help. But I can do damage to a batch of these ‘babies. The point being – if you want anything to show for your effort, double the batch. Then, when you have seconds, try them with coffee.
From my mother –