Training Cookies

I was chatting with my step-mom last week when she reminded me of a memory that made me smile:  the year I got my training cookies.

If you’re scratching your head right now, I don’t blame you.  Most people would agree that a bit of training is helpful before tackling some of the more complex foods, but everyone knows how to eat cookies.

Unless they’re me.

I can dismantle and gobble down a steamed lobster in record time.  Sushi?  No problem; I can handle chopsticks, and I’m such a food-geek that I actually know obscure sushi etiquette like never mixing the wasabi into the soya sauce and always eating nigiri so the fish contacts your tongue first.

But cookies?  Well… apparently they’re trickier.

It all started years ago when my dad and step-mom came to visit me in Calgary, bringing my step-mom’s famous ginger-molasses cookies.

We had been driving around enjoying the sights on a nice spring day, and we stopped at a convenience store to get some cold drinks.  Parked comfortably in the shade, we were sitting in the car with the windows open while enjoying our refreshments and some of the fateful cookies.  As usual, I was talking volubly with my hands.  I was also holding a cookie at the time.

I made one particularly emphatic gesture and the cookie flew out of my hand, out the open window to land with a plop on the asphalt beside the car.

Mouth gaping, eyes wide, I sat there in shocked silence.

I had wasted a cookie!  For a food-worshipper like me, it was sacrilege!  Worse, I had wasted a delicious cookie that had travelled 800 miles just to tickle my tastebuds!

The silence lasted only a second or two before my companions burst into uproarious laughter.  And sure enough, when next Christmas rolled around, guess what I found under the tree?

Remember the children’s mittens that were joined together with a cord that went up one sleeve, around the neck and down the other sleeve so the mittens never parted company with the jacket?  (And theoretically, with the child?)

Yep, I’d gotten training cookies:  Two tender and tasty ginger-molasses cookies, each with a neat hole in the middle.  A festive ribbon joined the two cookies at exactly the length required to fit around my neck while holding a cookie in each hand.

Ever since then, that recipe has been known as “Training Cookies” in our household.  The cookies themselves are yummy, but the memory is sweeter than any baked goods could ever be.

I’m probably the only person in the world who needs training cookies, but if you’re in the market for a chewy and delicious ginger-molasses cookie recipe, here it is:

Training Cookies

¾ cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
4 tablespoons dark molasses
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Beat the butter and sugar together until fluffy, then add the egg and molasses and beat.  Mix in dry ingredients.  Roll into balls, dip in sugar, and flatten with a fork.  Bake at 350 degrees approximately 10 – 12 minutes until just beginning to brown at the edges.  Happy memories can be baked in, or added later!

Anybody else have a family recipe with special memories?

40 thoughts on “Training Cookies

  1. I feel like you’re never going to live this down and this is going to be a thing every year. I was always kind of unsure about baking with molasses because it just reminds me of watching dinosaurs crawl out of tar in cartoons as a kid. I made gingerbread a few months ago though and definitely didn’t regret it.


  2. So I”m a smidge behind…as always…on posts, but timely as well. I was making what I think is my last batch of caramels for the year, and telling my husband how I remember standing by my mom at the stove, as a little girl and making them with her. This was back when she used a mercury candy thermometer, and since they were only “fairly” accurate she would validate the caramel was ready by putting a small spoonful into cold water and then test the consistency with her fingers. Now I just use my digital thermometer. I make these as gifts for family and friends. This year I did about 600, my all time high year was 2000. And since I do have a few left over this year, if any of you aren’t into the putziness of making these or don’t want about 200 caramels sitting around that you have to either eat or give away after wrapping, send me your address and I’ll mail you a few. ( Here is the recipe.

    2 sticks of butter
    1 lb brown sugar
    1 can sweetened condensed milk (use Eagle brand if at all possible, I’ve had rotten luck with Carnation)
    1 cup dark Karo syrup
    1 tsp vanilla

    Butter a jelly roll pan on the bottom and sides. Mix everything EXCEPT vanilla in a heavy saucepan, cook over med high heat, stirring constantly until the thermometer reaches between 240-245 degrees. (Depends on if you like your caramels softer or firmer. I usually go 240-241, my sister swears by 245.) Remove from heat and quickly stir in the vanilla, then pour into the jelly roll pan. Don’t scrape the pan, just pour out. (The caramel in the pan continues to heat so you might get a firm batch where you poured if you scrape the bottom and sides of your pan.) After it cools, cut into small pieces and wrap in wax paper rectangles. You can get those precut on the internet, just look for “wax paper candy wrappers” or cut your own about 3×4 or so.


    • Oh, yum! Those sound delicious! I once accidentally made grape toffee – I was trying for a small batch of grape jelly but the sugar and pectin got out of control. Still, it made a remarkably tasty chewy grape candy… 🙂


  3. Pingback: Flying Food | Diane Henders

  4. Here’s a goodie! Open face hot dogs. The good stuff, y’all. Makes eight ‘dogs.

    8 slices sandwich bread (we use wheat)
    1 can Wolf Brand Chili (no beans)**
    1 package all-beef frankfurters (sliced into quarter-inch disks)

    Diced onions, pickles or your favorite hot dog relish, cheese (sliced American, cheddar, Swiss, grated Velveeta, anything you like here)

    Heat the chili, boil the franks, and preheat the oven on Broil. While that’s cranking along, place the bread on a baking sheet (cooking spray recommended). Smear on a bit of mustard, to taste. Drain franks well and divide them equally over the bread. Add onions and relish, Spoon on chili generously. Cover with cheese.

    Place baking sheet in the oven until the cheese is melted.

    Remove from oven before stuff catches fire. (Just sayin’… Don’t ask.)


    **This here is Texas. Therefore, chili doesn’t contain beans. If it did, it would be called ‘chili with beans.’ Just so y’all know.


  5. As a cookieholic I am in a twelve step program, but I do fall off the wagon once in a while. It usually ain’t pretty when that happens. It’s a love/hate relationship over which I have no control. Maybe if I had training cookies as a kid things would be different now. Maybe.

    Liked by 1 person

    • How sad! I apologize for flaunting cookies in your face. I prefer to promote responsible cookie consumption whenever possible. (For us, that means gobbling up as many as possible while they’re still warm; but hey, ‘responsible’ is open to interpretation, right?)

      Liked by 1 person

  6. That was a great story. I love the idea of stringing the cookies together. Might be a way to make a whole necklace of them for some small person. Think of the Delight in their eyes when they see that!!
    I have a story about one of our favorite desserts called Nectarine Pizza. Of course you can only make it in the summer with fresh nectarines. One Father’s Day that was the dessert we chose to make and it was a beauty. It was sitting in the refrigerator ready to go with the addition of a little whipped cream on top but when I opened the refrigerator door it slid out onto the floor. At this time I don’t remember whether we salvaged any but it was a real shock not they have the dessert we had planned on and had our taste buds waiting for!!!
    The recipe for Nectarine Pizza, just don’t forget the seatbelt when you put it in the fridge!!
    For the dough:
    1/2 cup butter
    1/4 cup sifted confectioners sugar
    1 cup sifted flour

    For the sauce:
    2 tablespoons cornstarch
    2 tablespoons granulated sugar
    1/4 teaspoon mace
    2/3 cup orange juice
    1/2 cup currant jelly or plum jelly or any clear red jelly. Could use apple with a dab of color in it if need be.
    6 nectarines

    Cream together butter and powdered sugar. Blend in flour to make soft dough. Pat evenly on bottom and sides of pizza pan or baking sheet. Prick well with fork and bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.

    In the saucepan combine sauce ingredients cook and stir until mixture thickens and boils. Cook for 2 minutes more. Cool slightly. Arrange sliced nectarines in the baked shell and spoon glaze overall, smoothing it out so all friut and pastry is covered. Chill. Garnish with whipped cream when you serve it. Absolutely delicious!
    P-S. You can use peaches but they are not as good for this dessert.


    • Oh, YUM! That sounds delicious – what a tragedy to see it hit the floor! Now that we’re in BC I’m hoping we’ll have tasty local peaches and nectarines in summer, so I’m definitely going to give your recipe a try. Mmmm, I can hardly wait! 🙂


    • Well, it’s been the coldest and snowiest winter in 30 years out here… and it’s still beautiful! Our new place is inland and the ground is frozen with an inch or so of snow on it, but there’s no snow at our rental on the coast. The temperatures have been down as low as -10 at night, but during the day it’s been in the 0 to +1 range so we’re loving it… especially compared to what the rest of Canada is getting right now.

      Other than that, we’re grinding through the usual complications of moving. There are tons of details and Murphy has been prominent in a lot of them, but we’re still making forward progress. Funny how walking on the beach seems to put everything in perspective! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Cookies are always good! Must admit I used to try and sneak them from a cooking rack. I’ve seen me make an extra layer to cake so I can nibble it straightaway.
    Alas I don’t make sweet things as much these days, I’m into bread making, I recently liberated my parents bread maker, and have made far too many loaves in the last couple of months.

    I used to make a cider apple cake known as “John Thaw cake” coz I always said I could eat him with a spoon. And this cake was mostly served with custard but it was yummy

    Happy new year all xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • “John Thaw Cake” – that’s a good one! Hubby and I have been known to hover over the cooling racks gobbling warm cookies until half of them are gone – they’re never as good as when they’re fresh out of the oven!

      I love bread, too – I’ve made a couple of loaves here already, but I’ve had to bake them one at a time because the oven is pretty small. There’s nothing like that fresh-baked bread aroma! 🙂


    • LOL! Those are good friends – they not only saved your scotch but also your immortal soul. ‘Cause any good Scotsman knows that on Judgement Day you’ll be suspended head-down in a barrel containing all the scotch you’ve ever wasted; and if you drown, to hell with you. 😉


  8. I did eventually make your previous chewy ginger molasses cookie recipe. My first tray was way over-baked at the 10 minute mark. My oven may run too hot. They also spread out far more than expected. Edible, but very crispy. The next several trays were baked for 8 minutes or less. They were crispy at the edges and chewy in the middle. A few questions about the recipe: Do you grease your cookie sheets or do you have silicone liners or use parchment? Do they spread to 3″ diameter no matter how little dough is used? My first tray had too much dough per cookie, clearly, but the recipe still yealded 61 3″ cookies.

    I notice the above recipe also hasn’t instructions on greased or ungreased baking trays, or the size of the balls to be rolled.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi el Tea! This is the same recipe as before, and I’m sorry they didn’t turn out for you – I should have given more details. I use a cookie scoop that creates balls about an inch in diameter, and the cookies do spread to about 2-1/2″, but they should still be about 1/4″ thick after they’re baked. It is a pretty big recipe, so 63 doesn’t sound unreasonable.

      Maybe it’s a difference in altitude (I’m used to baking at 3,500 feet above sea level), or maybe it’s the fact that I scoop my flour directly out of the container with my measuring cup, so that would tend to compact the flour and would amount to more flour in the recipe than if you measured correctly by spooning the flour into the cup and then levelling it with a knife. (I do that because high-altitude baking typically requires more flour in recipes and that seems to solve the problem.) Maybe you could try using an extra 1/4 cup of flour and see if they hold their shape better?

      I use parchment paper on an airbake pan (two layers of metal crimped together with an air gap between them) so my baking times are always a little longer. I usually bake these cookies 13 minutes at 350 on my airbake pan so I reduced the time to compensate, but I guess I didn’t reduce it enough. They may bake faster at lower altitudes, too – I guess I’d better try them here on the coast and see if I need to update my recipe! (Darn it all; now I have to eat training cookies…) 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • The two recipes are very different from one another. The first is fat free and had only ginger for spice. It also used cream of tartar and lemon juice with baking soda which caused a major foaming action- way cool culinary chemistry action! I’m sure part of the baking time difference is the airbake pan AND the altitude baking. Plus, only a quarter of the recipe got way over baked, and once I realized I needed far less baking time, the rest turned out well. I have an airbake pan that gets used when the cookie should never get at all brown as in Spritz, Russian Tea Cakes, shortbread or cut-out sugar cookies. But most cookie recipes do better on a normal sheet pan, especially those that the sugar and butter caramelize. I am eager to try your training cookies too. They sound just like what my mother made except for flattening them. She called her cookies Molasses Crinkles. The sugar coated areas cracked like a lake bed in the desert. They remained very chewy too. Yum!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yum indeed! And, right; I’d forgotten about posting that other recipe. Those ones do spread out, too, but usually not that much – they may want a bit of extra flour as well.

          I’ve got a small oven in our current rental unit, and when we finally move to our new place I’ll have a new, larger convection oven. Between that and relearning to bake at sea level, we’ll likely have some ‘interesting’ baking results for the next few months!

          Liked by 1 person

  9. I’ll try those cookies before long. They sound too good to miss.

    Favorite recipe? Got one. My very own salsa blend. Worked on it through many, many iterations before I got it right. Now, it exactly suits my taste, and my family loves it. Even the extended family…including the in-laws from South Africa. They do approach it with a suitable degree of caution, but they claim to like it. They must. They eat ‘way too much of it not to. 🙂

    I call it Nacho Glycerin. Just sayin’… 🙂


      • It can be, depending on the heat level of the jalapenos. I’ve found that it varies widely throughout the season and from where the peppers are sourced. But I don’t intentionally make it THAT hot. Well, not usually. 🙂

        Just so y’all know, I’m not one of those “If I ain’t blind, it ain’t hot enough!” guys. Well, not on a good day, anyway. 🙂


  10. I laughed. Training cookies. My sister needs idiot strings for her phone. In the arctic, The idiot strings are fancy braided coloured twine so you can drop your outer heavy mitts instantly and fire a rifle or whatever, and not lose them.
    I have copied the recipe and will try it tomorrow.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Ha ha! It seems that cookies are more difficult than I had ever imagined 🙂
    For years my mother made my great-grandmother’s Christmas pudding recipe, the best parts of which were Bavarian cream (two kinds) and Lemon Snow. There were a bunch of other things in there like fruit and coffee jello and whipped cream, but the Bavarian cream and Lemon Snow were the best parts. Mmmm. I can’t bring myself to eat Lemon Snow anymore because it’s got raw egg whites in it, but I have my memories and no one can take those away! (Take that, you wicked salmonella you)

    We also have a wonderful lemon loaf recipe that is topped with a mixture of lemon juice and sugar drizzled over holes poked in the loaf. It’s lemony like you’ve never had it before. Can’t eat that, either – acidic stomach and sensitive teeth. But for those who can, they love it.

    Darn it. Why is everything I love off limits now?! I’ll have to try your cookies, with or without the ribbon, and see if I can start a new baking favourite!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, your recipes sound delicious! My mouth is watering at the description of the lemon loaf, and I love Christmas pudding, too! It just doesn’t seem fair that our digestive systems should rebel against such yumminess, but you’re right; at least we have the good memories.

      I hope you like the training cookies! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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