We are officially over our heads in dessert. Don't look in the freezer, it is embarrassing. Also--I don't see an end in site, with a can of pumpkin lurking around every thought and our chocolate mint plant over flowing with green leaves. Let's just say that to everything there is a season, and this season is consumed with baking. So you should come over and help me clear out the freezer.
I want to share with you one of the recipes I tried this week. It is from the cook book "America's Best Lost Recipes" by cook's country. I love food with a history, so along with a short story there is some old recipe your grandpa used to talk about. I also love molasses, which is why I tried the Joe Froggers recipe first. Joe Froggers come from 200 years ago in Marble head Massachusetts and Joe's tavern--owned by Joseph Brown, a freed slave and Revolutionary war veteran. Apparently his signature rum and salt water made the cookies amazing. A molasses cookie is always perfect for fall, and although I can't vouch for the authenticity of this recipe, I can say that I love them. Soft and chewy and beautifully brown. I made some considerable alterations, which I will include in the recipe below. Namely I used a combo of black-strap molasses and dark molasses. The cookbook warns against this--but I didn't notice anything off. The dark molasses gives a beautiful color and a bit of a smoky flavor. If of course you hate molasses--I don't know why are you are still reading-- you can use light molasses. Also, the rum and the salt flavor is essential--so find some rum or use a decent amount of extract. Without it the cookies would just be your average (albeit flat and soft) ginger cookie.
The recipe also calls for the dough to be rolled out and cut into 3 1/2 " circles. I really dislike rolling out cookies, especially rolling out sticky dough. Plus this dough spreads out enough that it doesn't really matter, so instead I scooped the soft dough onto the pan, and pressed them flat with a floured cup. Easier right? Or is that just me.
The end cookie is chewy, soft, butterscotchy and dark. I find them slightly addicting, I'm convincing myself it is the ridiculous amount of iron from the blackstrap molasses that my body craves, but we all know I just want a cookie.
scant 1/3 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 cups flour *
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1 cup molasses *
1 teaspoon baking soda
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
Stir the rum extract, water and salt in a small bowl until the salt dissolves.
Whisk the flour and spices in a medium bowl
Stir the molasses and baking soda in a large measuring cup, and let it sit until doubled in volume (about 10 minutes)
With an electric mixer on medium-high beat the butter and sugar until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Gradually beat in the rum mixture.
Add the flour mix and the molasses mix alternately in 2 batches, scraping down the bowl as needed.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until stiff, at least 8 hours or up to 3 days.
Heat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Line baking sheets with parchment paper or a silpat. Make 6 cookies per sheet (they will spread) and scoop the dough (about 2 tablespoons) on to the parchment. With the bottom of a floured cup press the dough down so that it is about 1/4" thick.
Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the cookies are set and the first cracks start to appear
Let cookies cool on the baking sheet for at least 5 minutes so they can finish to set.
Store cookies in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
* I used 3 3/4 cup of flour, the dough was still very sticky-- but without the extra flour my dough looked like cake batter.
* original recipe calls for mild molasses, I used half dark, half black strap and an extra tablespoon of sugar. The darker the molasses, the less sugar in the molasses.
Option: you can put 2 pans in the oven at the same time, just be sure to rotate. Also the silpat cookies will take longer to bake then the parchment paper cookies.