Nanny Tate's Sugar and Spice Cookies




Introduction: Nanny Tate's Sugar and Spice Cookies

About: Justin Tyler Tate is an artist, designer, animator, teacher, jeweler and maker/hacker who produces with thoughts of culture, science and interactivity.

Every year in the middle of December, when I visit my parents, my mom and I make my grandmothers 'Sugar and Spice' cookies. My mom pulls the old and yellowed index card with my grandmother's handwriting out of its box and we whip up the ingredients, roll them out and bake them until they're soft, chewy, spicy and sweet.


It's a pretty straight forward recipe but what you'll need is:

  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup molasses*
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 to 1 cup sugar to coat dough balls

*Depending on where you live, you may have trouble finding molasses. What I do when I can't find molasses locally is I get the darkest sugar available which I melt down, allow it to cool and then use that instead.

Step 2: THE WET

The first thing you need to do is mix your wet ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup molasses

Start by beating your egg a little bit and then add the rest, whipping it all together until you get a brown and sticky mess.

Step 3: THE DRY

Now it is time for your dry ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp ground ginger

Just mix them all together in a big bowl.


Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet. In just a few minutes you'll end up with a consistency slightly more malleable than Play-Doh.

Step 5: ROLL 'EM UP

Fill a bowl or plate with the remaining sugar. You wont need that much...maybe a half a cup or maybe a whole cup. You can always add more if you need it.

Take some dough, about the size of a walnut, and roll it into a sphere. Take that sphere and roll it around in your sugar so that it is evenly covered. Now place your sugar-coated dough ball on a baking tray. Preheat your oven to 350°F/175°C while you roll and coat your remaining dough balls.

Step 6: BAKE 'EM

Bake your cookies in your pre-heated 350°F/175°C oven for 8-10 minutes. Your perfect spheres will slump into cracked little domes as they bake; it's like magic.


Now you should have about 24 to 30 of my grandmother's Sugar and Spice cookies. What can you do with 24 to 30 cookies? Well, you can...

  1. Share them with family and friends.
  2. Eat them all yourself and don't share with anyone.
  3. Put them in a nice box or tin and give them as a present.
  4. Leave them out for a mythological fat man in a red costume who is supposed to break into your house on the 25th of December.

    If you have any questions, leave them as a comment and I will answer as soon as I can.

    Good luck and happy cookie-eating!
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    2 Discussions

    Hand-written old recipe cards are like love letters from the past. Sweet!

    Do your cookies hold together, being so cracked on top? Just curious. They look good - I'm going to try them with speculoos spices & erythritol instead of sugar.

    1 reply

    Yep, they look like they should fall apart but they never do (it's part of their magic).