Aunt Marcia’s Soft Molasses Thumbprint Cookies


The beauty of a soft molasses cookie like this is that they’re a not-too-sweet treat and are as good with a slice of cheese or dab of peanut butter as they are on their own. The cookies are soft, but not in a cake-like way so travel well too. Here I have cut the original recipe in half.

The recipe is from my husband’s Aunt Marcia, a true old fashioned baker. She went by feel when it came to cooking and her hands and a tea cup were her measuring implements. She always got it just right.

She used to fry her famous doughnuts in an open pot, without a thermometer. Instead she’d lean her face over the shimmering vat of oil to feel the steam against her cheek and that’s how she’d judge if the temperature was right for frying.

When we’d visit she’d load our car with her homemade treats: chokecherry wine, pickled watermelon rind, candied pumpkin, homemade doughnuts, date-filled oatmeal cookies and her comforting soft molasses cookies. Visit after visit these molasses cookies sustained us during the long drive home from Northern New Brunswick.

I have her son Leonard to thank for the written recipe. He spent a lifetime watching Aunt Marcia make these cookies so figured out the quantities and wrote them down.

Aunt Marcia’s Soft Molasses Thumbprint Cookies

Recipe by Bridget OlandCourse: Cookies

3 dozen

Prep time


Cooking time


Total time



This is a soft molasses cookie that isn’t too sweet. Bake them as simple fat molasses cookies or turn them into jam jams with a dollop of jam.


  • ¾ cup brown sugar

  • ½ cup butter, softened

  • 1 large egg, room temperature

  • ½ cup fancy molasses

  • ¼ cup strong tea with 1 ½ tsp. baking soda

  • 1 ½ tsp. ginger

  • ½ tsp. cream of tartar

  • ¼ tsp. salt

  • 2 ½ – 3 cups all purpose flour (can use stone ground)

  • Jam (optional)


  • In a large bowl cream butter and sugar. Add egg and beat well.
  • Add molasses and tea mixture and beat until well combined.
  • In another bowl combine the ginger, flour, cream of tartar and flour (start with 2 ½ cups).
  • Add dry to wet ingredients and mix well.
  • Scrape dough out onto a lightly floured counter and gently knead in additional four until the dough is no longer sticky.
  • Roll out ¼” thick and cut into rounds.
  • With your thumb press a gentle dent in the top of the cookie and fill with ½ tsp. of jam.
  • Bake at 350 F on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 10-14 minutes.
  • Makes 2 ½ to 3 dozen.


  1. Oh my, these look great, and I know what you mean by soft but not cakey. That's exactly what I've been looking for!
    Also I can't imagine using my face to judge the heat over a pot of hot oil, lol. I'd probably burn my face off!

  2. Such a good idea to change up a thumbprint cookie! These sound amazing.

  3. what is whole white flour? Did you mean all purpose white flour or whole wheat flour? This is confusing. (I grew up in NB too but have no idea what “whole white” means.)

    • Hi Julie,
      Whole white flour is a natural “white” flour. It’s stone ground and only has the bran removed so still contains the germ of the wheat. It’s kind of half way between whole wheat and conventional white flour. In this recipe you can simply use conventional all purpose flour. That’s what Aunt Marcia used 🙂


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