Over the years, several Culinary SOS readers have requested recipes for soft molasses cookies; one specified the kind sold off the Helm's Bakery trucks that used to roam the Southland. This is the recipe we published in November, and it's a good one. After testing it, we couldn't stop eating the cookies.An interesting note: Since 1987, we've printed four slightly different molasses cookie recipes. One version, using shortening instead of butter, different proportions of sugar, flour, molasses and spices and no egg, was credited to reader Ellen Meehan of Alhambra, who won a "My Best Recipe" prize with it in 1965. Another version was identical to the one printed here with the addition of a teaspoon of ground allspice and a teaspoon of ground cloves. Finally, another version called for allspice and cloves but also shortening and different proportions of the other ingredients. We weren't able to discover why the recipes differ, but we do know that this one makes terrific cookies.
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup molasses
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 cup water
Cream butter with sugar by beating together until light and fluffy. Beat in molasses and egg. Sift flour with ginger, cinnamon and salt.
Dissolve baking soda in water. Add flour mixture to butter mixture, then add baking soda mixture, beating well between additions. Drop by tablespoons onto greased and floured baking sheets. Bake at 400 degrees until cracked and barely set, about 10 minutes. Remove from baking sheets and cool on wire racks.