Peanut Butter Molasses Cookies






Mary Janes were among my favorite penny candy, along with Bit O’ Honey and Tootsie Rolls.  The corner store in my neighborhood, which closed in my early teens, had shelves of penny candy and small paper bags that eager children could fill to their heart’s delight.

These cookies are modeled on the Mary Jane, featuring peanut butter, molasses, and dark brown sugar.  While you could certainly use light brown sugar, dark brown sugar has a higher quantity of molasses in it and will yield a richer flavor; you could also use crunchy, rather than smooth, peanut butter for another dimension of texture.


  • 2 2/3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cups dark brown sugar
  • 12 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 2/3 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup molasses (not blackstrap)
  • 2 eggs
  • About 1 cup unsalted peanuts, coarsely chopped


In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream together dark brown sugar, butter, shortening, peanut butter, and molasses until very well combined and fluffy, about two minutes.

Add eggs and beat well, about two minutes.

Add one-half of the flour mixture and beat until combined.

Add the remaining flour mixture and beat until combined.

Cover and chill dough at least one hour or until firm and easy to handle.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Line several baking sheets with foil and spray very lightly with cooking spray. (Note: I do not re-spray sheets after they have baked, as I find that there is enough residual spray left on the sheets so the cookies do not stick.)

Using a one-inch cookie scoop, scoop very generous portions of dough and roll into balls; dip one-half of each ball in chopped peanuts, pressing lightly to embed the nuts in the dough.

Place on the baking sheet about two inches apart and bake for 10 minutes.

Remove from oven; cool cookies on the baking sheet on a wire rack for two to three minutes, then remove cookies and cool completely on another rack.