October 6, 2011 by jenniebean10
As most of you know, I recently moved to Gettysburg, PA for a job at the College. I’ve made a handful of friends and continue to meet people, but my office is somewhat isolated from the rest of the psych department. I don’t really know the people in the psych department that well, so what’s the best way to make friends…..? Why, bake cookies for them, of course! I decided that I would bake cookies and put them in the mail/supply room with a little note: “Please take a cookie, but if you do…come say hello to the baker!”
I’ve had this bottle of molasses that I use occasionally for my vegan banana bread, and I always wanted to make something else with it but California wasn’t really the place to make molasses cookies. The weather just was never right. Now that I’m in a place where it actually feels AND looks like fall, I think it’s appropriate for me to make this type of cookie. Besides, one of my friends here really likes molasses cookies so he’s going to judge these for their tastiness.
I bought Ann Hodgman’s cookbook, “Beat This!” from Borders this summer just before they closed (waaah), and I want to make 90% of the recipes in here. She has a recipe for “even better molasses cookies,” but it called for many ingredients that I didn’t feel like buying, so I used hers as a skeleton and tweaked it to make it my own. The biggest differences with my recipe are that I used butter instead of shortening, I used a mixture of darker sugars instead of white granulated sugar, and I added some cocoa powder. You could probably come up with your own blend of sugars and anything would work well….I’m guessing. It was my first time baking molasses cookies and I think they turned out awesome, so maybe it’s just a flexible cookie. Only screwed up one pan because I tried baking two sheets at a time, and the cookies on the bottom tray just wouldn’t crack. Then they burned. It’s hard to tell that they’re burning because the dough is so dark. That is probably a result of the sugars and type of molasses that I used.
Anyone ever heard of blackstrap molasses? Apparently some folks say that its only commercial use is in cattle feed, but I beg to differ. Molasses comes in different varieties, and blackstrap is what remains after the 3rd boil. It is the darkest kind of molasses and has a bittersweet flavor to it. I personally like that it doesn’t add much extra sweetness to the cookies, which makes them perfect for this kind of weather and to have with a glass of cider. I got the unsulphured kind, and I’m not even sure if they sold sulphured blackstrap molasses at Sprouts. I googled molasses cookies to compare mine to others, and mine have a richer, darker hue.
Anyways, these cookies were easy to make, and will probably turn out even better if you have more patience than I do:
1 1/2 c. unsalted butter (at room temp)
1 c. dark brown sugar
1/2 c. demerara or turbinado sugar
1/4 c. golden brown sugar
just less than 1/4 c. raw agave nectar
3 medium (or 2 large) eggs
2 T. blackstrap molasses
3 c. all-purpose white flour
1 c. all-purpose whole wheat flour
4 t. baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 T. ground cinnamon
2 T. cocoa powder
1/2 t. allspice
1/4 t. ground nutmeg
1/2 t. ground black pepper
3/4 c. demerara or turbinado sugar (for rolling the cookies)
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars Add the eggs and molasses and mix well. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, spices and pepper. Slowly add the flour mixture to the molasses mixture and beat together. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and stick in the fridge for at least an hour, up to 24 hrs.
10 minutes before you start placing the dough on the cookie sheet, preheat the oven to 375°F and line cookie sheets with silicon mats or parchment paper. Roll the dough into balls the size of walnuts and dip (don’t roll) each one into the large-crystal sugar. Place the cookies 3 inches apart, with the sugar side facing up. Bake for 9-12 minutes, or until the outsides of the cookies crack and the insides are still soft. You can tell the cookies are done when you go to slide the spatula underneath them and the entire cookie moves cleanly and keeps its shape.
Cool on racks and store in an airtight container.
Yield: about 6 dozen cookies