Saturday, February 2, 2019

MOLASSES SPICE COOKIES: Guest post by Laura-Kate Rurka

Laura-Kate Rurka is an amazing and avid baker and an aspiring mystery writer. I first met her at Left Coast Crime in Los Angeles where I was surprised and happy to learn that she lived in the Bay Area. Since that meeting, she has attended several of my Literary Salons where she has always brought the most amazing baked goods! Laura-Kate loves to see the expression on people’s faces when they bite into something delicious, and is always on the hunt for new recipes to make her friends and family happy. She lives in the Bay Area with her husband, three children and a big, red lab. 

Laura-Kate recently brought these amazing cookies to a Literary Salon at my home, and I can attest they are some of the best cookies I have ever had. I know they're not chocolate, but you have to make them! Be sure to pay special attention to and don't deviate from the instructions and ingredients.


Every year during the holidays, (and in the off season, for Janet’s Literary Salon) I make hundreds of these chewy, molasses spice cookies, and every year I hear the same things:

“I hid them.”
“I didn’t share.”
“I told the kids they couldn’t have any.”
“Those are the best cookies I’ve ever had.”

And then:

“Can I have the recipe?”
“Don’t bother,” says one friend to the other, overhearing the request.
“They won’t taste like hers.”

It’s not true. They will taste like mine. All you have to do is use the proper ingredients and mind the extra instructions and soon, your friends too will be hoarding cookies and hiding them from their children. Or maybe you’ll keep them all for yourself.

The recipe is listed below and is pretty perfect in its own right, but follow these few tips and you’ll end up with the best cookies you’ve ever had. Deviate at your own peril.

1) Use Challenge or Land O’Lakes butter, softened on the counter for at least one hour.
2) Have your eggs at room temperature.
3) Use C&H dark brown sugar and Brer Rabbit full flavor molasses (not blackstrap or mild).
4) Conventional granulated sugar is fine for the batter, but use organic evaporated cane juice to roll the cookies and roll them generously. You may require more than the recipe calls for.
5) Make them big! I use an ice cream scoop from the restaurant supply store.
6) Bake them one sheet at a time on a parchment or Silpat lined un-insulated pan in the middle to upper third of the oven. This ensures the perfect sugar crusted crackly top.
7) Batter can be made ahead and stored in the fridge for a day or two. Soften for half an hour before rolling and baking.
8) If you use a large ice cream scoop, one batch will yield 12 big cookies. Batch can be doubled without issue.
9) Underbake! Start with 10-12 minutes baking time. The cookies should look slightly wet in the crevices of the crackles. Once cool, this will produce a crisp outside and chewy middle.
10) Make sure your spices are fresh.
11) Enjoy!

Molasses Spice Cookies Recipe

Preparation time: 30 minutes. Makes 12 large cookies.

Molasses spice cookies are sort of like ginger snaps except bigger and chewy. The recipe for these cookies comes from Cook's Illustrated's The Best Recipe Cookbook.

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
12 Tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus 1/3 cup for rolling cookies
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup unsulphured molasses

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Whisk flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice together in a bowl and set aside.

With a mixer (or by hand), cream butter, brown sugar, and 1/2 cup granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes with mixer set at medium speed. Add egg, vanilla extract, and molasses. Beat until combined, about 30 seconds. Scrape sides of bowl.

Add dry ingredients and beat at low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds.

Place remaining 1/3 cup of granulated sugar in a shallow bowl. Working with 2 Tbsp of dough each time, roll dough into 1 3/4 inch balls. Roll balls in sugar and place on ungreased cookie sheets, spacing them 1 1/2 to 2 inches apart.

Bake until outer edges begin to set and centers are soft and puffy, about 11 to 13 minutes. Cool cookies on sheets for 2 to 3 minutes before transferring them to cooling racks with a wide spatula.

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