Friday, January 25, 2013

Flashback Friday: Soft Molasses Cookies

Flashback Friday: Revisiting a recipe from long ago

I was hoping to find an old recipe starring peanut butter in honor of National Peanut Butter Day yesterday.  Alas, there seems to be an abundance of old family recipes for ginger and molasses cookies.  I guess peanut butter wasn't exactly a staple in the Scandinavian kitchen.  While I won't turn down a spice cookie, I generally prefer a cookie involving chocolate.  All that being said, I'll do my best to add a little more variety to this series in the coming weeks.

These thick and ultra soft molasses cookies come from my great-aunt on my mom's side.  Hmmm, my great-aunt on my dad's side is known for her Ginger Creams, it must be a great-aunt thing.  Though I don't remember my Great-Aunt Carroll or her husband, Oscar, I've driven past the restaurant they started many times.  Pies were her specialty at the restaurant but my mom remembers these cookies best.

Since the dough is extremely soft Carroll used a pastry cloth and covered rolling pin when rolling out the dough.  I got by with a lot of flour on the counter.  A thin metal spatula will also help when transferring the cookies to baking sheets.

 Extra dough scraps are even more edible than usual as this recipe is eggless.  Does egg-free cookie dough justify eating twice as much dough?  Please don't answer that.  

On a completely different note, while I was putting the plate used in the pictures back in the hutch, I noticed a yellowed piece of tape stuck on the back.  Writing on the tape indicates my great-great-aunt (not related to Carroll) painted the plate.  I'm not so sure about the hand-painted part, but the plate itself is brittle enough I'd believe it's four generations old. 

Extra thick and super soft, these molasses cookies have stood the test of time. 

Carroll's Soft Molasses Cookies
recipe from my Great-Aunt Carroll 

3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 cup shortening (I used butter-flavored shortening)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup cold coffee
additional sugar for sprinkling tops, optional

* In a medium bowl combine flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves; set aside.
* In a large bowl cream together shortening and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in molasses and coffee, mixture will look curdled.  Gradually stir in flour mixture to form a soft dough.  Divide dough in half and wrap in waxed paper (I used plastic wrap).  Chill dough 15 minutes. (I thought the dough was still too soft and left it in the fridge 30-60 minutes.)
* Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease cookie sheets; set aside.  Flour work surface and rolling pin thoroughly.  Roll out dough to 1/3-inch thick, adding more flour to prevent sticking.  Cut out desired shapes and carefully transfer to prepared cookie sheets.  Sprinkle tops with sugar, if desired. Bake 9-11 minutes or until cookies barely dent when lightly touched with fingertip.  Transfer to wire cooling racks.  Let cool before storing in airtight container.

Here's a picture of Carroll's recipe as it appeared in a cookbook she gave my grandma.

Yikes, apparently January is the month for old molasses cookie recipes. While today's cookies are large, thick and soft, these are hard and small, and these are super small and soft.  I found at least three more molasses cookie recipes in the family, not to mention my own chewy and crackled standby.  Maybe I'll wait until I'm a great-aunt to share that one with you. 

Food for Thought: "Man can not live without joy; therefore when he is deprived of true spiritual joys it is necessary that he become addicted to carnal pleasures." -Thomas Aquinas 

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