The Secret Ingredient To Elevate Molasses Gingersnap Cookies

When the nights get longer and the weather turns cooler, we tend to gravitate toward cozy items such as flannel pajamas and wool socks — as well as their culinary counterparts in the form of comfort food. Autumn and winter have a way of propelling us into the kitchen to seek warmth and nourishment in the form of hearty soups, filling stews, and, of course, cookies — so, so many cookies.

It's the time of year that many of us will dust off old family recipes — or at least log onto the internet — and crack open our pantries full of flour, baking powder, and spices to create stores of tasty, buttery cookies that we can enjoy alongside some hot mulled cider or a fresh-from-Starbucks PSL. Apart from our personal stocks, we're also likely to be baking up dozens of cookies for holiday gatherings, from sprinkles-flecked shortbread cookies to classic snowballs to spiced molasses gingersnap cookies. The latter, created for Tasting Table by recipe developer Jessica Morone, feature the familiar fall flavors of dark, sweet molasses and warming ginger, cinnamon, and cloves — but they also boast an unexpected ingredient that you and yours are sure to love.

A teaspoon of maple extract deepens the flavor of these gingersnaps

If you love to bake, you're likely familiar with vanilla extract, almond extract, and maybe even lemon or peppermint extracts, super-concentrated flavorings typically made by submerging an ingredient in high-proof alcohol (via Mary's Nest). These potent extracts allow you to add flavor to a baked good without changing its structure or texture too much by, say, adding a whole bunch of chopped mint or lemon juice. And while you may not have heard of it, maple extract is a great way to bring that irreplaceable cold-season taste to cakes and cookies without using up too much of your precious jug of expensive maple syrup.

If you've never baked with maple extract, consider these molasses gingersnap cookies from Tasting Table recipe developer Jessica Morone an invitation to pick up a bottle. The chewy, spicy cookies get an extra seasonal boost from the extract, according to Morone. "It gives these cookies a subtle maple flavor and adds to the warm spices in the cookies that make it seem so perfect for the fall and winter seasons," she explains, adding that the chewy gingersnaps are a perfect accompaniment to seasonal sippers such as hot cider or cocoa. No maple extract on hand? No worries, says Morone, as vanilla makes a great substitution. Whichever flavor profile you choose, these delightful cookies are sure to make an impression at any holiday cookie swap or family gathering.