These cookies were my mother’s favorites. I was required to bake them each Christmas, once the recipe came into my hands from a co-worker at the time, Marie Armer (a woman from whom many recipes were received)! Marie was always bringing goodies into the office. We used to tease her about it, saying this was part of her Italian Mother persona, the feed-’em-and-they feel-better philosophy. In fact, she made the best carrot cake I’ve ever tasted – and I have that recipe too (yes, I’ll post it when I next bake it).
It’s not surprising that Mom would love these little “babies” since I recall that she also found it hard to resist picking up a package of Freihofer’s Hermit Cookies when I’d take her grocery shopping (she didn’t drive so this constituted my Saturday mother-daughter bonding ritual – to Price Chopper for the week’s sustenance). To me, Cry Babies are similar to both hermit cookies and molasses cookies, with a bit of the gingerbread thrown in (there is, after all, ginger as one of the ingredients). I enjoy them too, although not nearly as much as Mom did. I must admit that any sort of molasses cookie doesn’t usually make it to the top of my list. So I made a half-batch this time and still had plenty to add to gift-plates of sweets, with more cookies left over than we could eat in this house!
I’ve noted my changes to Marie’s original in the recipe below. As for the cookie’s name, I don’t know where that came from—but could we presume, based on Mom’s opinion, that they’re so sweet and heavenly that they might bring tears to your eyes?
Makes lots of cookies – at least 3-4 dozen
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup molasses (darker the better)
- 1 cup shortening (I use butter, softened)
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon (I use Roasted Saigon Cinnamon now, but regular is fine)
- 2 teaspoons ginger (recently discovered Roasted Ginger dried spice – try it!)
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg (this is my addition to the recipe; not in original received from Marie)
- dash of salt (I tend to use sea salt)
- 5 cups sifted all-purpose flour (flour should be sifted before measuring
- 1 cup hot coffee mixed with 1 level teaspoon baking soda
- chopped walnuts (optional – amount to your own taste; I use up to a cup)
- raisins (also optional but I always include them – amount to your own taste; I use up to a cup)
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
- In another bowl, mix sugar, molasses, shortening (or butter) and eggs in a large bowl, beating until blended.
- Sift together cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, salt and previously-sifted flour.
- Add flour/spices mixture to the sugar/molasses mix, alternating with addition of the hot coffee/baking soda mixture, blending with mixer as you do so.
- Add nuts and raisins (if using them), stirring into batter.
- Drop batter by teaspoonfuls on an ungreased cookie sheet.
- Bake in 350 degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes.
- Remove from cookie sheet after cooling for a minute or two.
- When fully cooled, Cry Babies can be frosted with a butter cream frosting, adding a nice contrast to the gingerbready/molasses cookie flavor. If you want to freeze them, don’t frost– wait until they’re defrosted for that!