After my initial exuberance (and much foraging in the wardrobe for sundresses and flip-flops) about Spring having Sprung, I realised I may be jumping the gun just a little. The days are lovely and warm and sunny but the evenings are still a little nippy and require a bit of central heating in the form of a steaming cuppa and it’s carbohydrate-rich sidekick.
I became interested in molasses last year (long story…) – I always thought it was revolting sticky medicinal gunk but on further inspection it turns out to be rich, slightly tangy, sweet yummity yumness. Black Velvet, indeed.
Now of course one cannot eat all by its lonesome little self, so what better way to get it inside your insides than in the form of a big chewy American-style cookie (I’m not sure if it’s because of the song, but molasses has always had some sort of mental association with the American Deep South to me) (even the name of this cookie is significantly improved if you say it with a nice Southern drawl, ya’ll) (you just said it out loud with an accent didn’t you? Bet you did!!).
The only drawback (which is minor, considering the outcome) is that you need to plan ahead for these as they need a bit of standing time; having had a senior moment I forgot this once but they worked fine despite having only an hour of repose.
They make fantastic homemade Christmas gifts topped with red and green sweeties and stacked in a pretty jar. They are soft and chewy, not crisp and snappy – apparently, if they do get too crisp, storing a slice of fresh bread in the tin with them will return them to their original texture . I can’t verify this because despite making double batches, I’ve never had any stick around long enough to turn crunchy. These really are sassy cookies – full of big flavour, not too sweet, with a nice spicy note. These are no prissy little pinky-out vanilla cookies that’s for sure.
For a sufficiently large quantity of Sassy Molassy Cookies:
1 and a half cups butter or margarine
2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup molasses (if you can find it use blackstrap – its the strong manly stuff that will put hair on any cookies chest) (not literally, of course. Ew!)
4 cups cake flour
4 teaspoons baking soda (SODA not POWDER)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon salt
Sugar, for coating
Melt the butter in the microwave, then allow it to cool. When its about room temperature, add the sugar, molasses and eggs and beat well to combine. Tan its hide!
In a separate bowl, sift and mix the dry ingredients together then add to the liquid ingredients. Mix well, then cover and refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight – yes, it will look like something from the Poop on Toast blog post, but it will turn out just fine.
When the dough has had enough time loafing around the fridge, preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Pour sugar (I use soft brown sugar to keep the molasses theme going) into a small bowl, then form blobs of dough into balls and roll them in the sugar. I make them quite big – maybe 4 or 5cm diameter? This gives cookies the size of a small saucer. That way you can put your goody-two-shoes face on and say “I shall have just this one cookie” and mean it.
Anyway, so put the sugar-coated balls (there’s a nice blog post topic) and place them AT LEAST 5cm apart on a greased cookie sheet, and if they’re quite large you want to keep them as far apart as possible. Bake for 8-10 minutes, and allow them to cool a little before carefully removing from the sheet before putting the next lot in – remember, they’re not crispy and crunchy and they must be handled with care while warm.
Store them in an airtight container that’s out of your reach, otherwise you WILL eat too many in one go.
Now on one of these chill-in-the-air Spring evenings, when the sun is setting like molasses in the sky, sit yourself down with a hot cup of coffee and a cookie, and tuck in while reading a book set in the Deep South… try The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells – its far better than the movie (wasn’t Maggie Smith’s accent just – appalling? I don’t use that word lightly). It is quite a thick book, so you may need another cookie or two or five to see you through it :-).