Monday, October 27, 2008

Mm, Mm, Molasses

I came across The Only Bake Sale Cookbook You'll Ever Need the other day when I was in the library perusing cookbooks (I swear, I went in for a real book, but I somehow found myself in this section; the fiction books are directly across from cookbooks, and so if I'm in there picking up a copy of The Road, then why shouldn't I make a quick detour?). Right now, I really don't need any Bake Sale cookbooks, but that's why I chose to check it out of my library rather than invest the actual money to purchase it.

As I skimmed through the pages, I saw several recipes for classic All-American desserts like brownies, blondies, chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal raisin bars...everything I would expect to see at a bake sale, if I ever attended one. The recipes are simple and generally fairly quick, and they all produce big batches that should sell well to sugar-hungry patrons. At first, I had a difficult time coming across anything breathtaking and show-stopping, but that could be due to the amount of cookbooks I find myself browsing through. But I did find these molasses cookies, and I thought of what a pleasant, spicy autumn cookie these could be.
The directions couldn't be more basic: combine in a bowl. Of course, when mixing the first eight ingredients, the dough is very hard and dry, so I found it better to just jump in and hand-blend the dough a bit, really incorporating the butter into the other ingredients. I also chilled the dough for a couple of hours before baking, which I hear vastly improves the quality of chocolate chip cookies (I also have the proof). All in all, the cookies turned out buttery and soft and sweet enough to not be just another bland spice cookie. Though I will return the cookbook to the library in due time, it itself is a fun guide to the basic cookies, bars, and cakes that we all expect to see in bakeries and peddled at bake sales.

Soft Molasses Drop Cookies

Yield: About 5 dozen

3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. salt
¾ cup molasses
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 ½ tsp. baking soda
½ cup hot milk

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease baking sheets with baking spray.
2. Combine the first eight ingredients, in the order given, in a large bowl and stir to mix.
3. Stir the baking soda and the hot milk together and add to the flour mixture. Stir well until fully combined. Scoop out the dough by tablespoons and drop about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.
4. Bake 12-14 minutes until dry but still soft. Cool on the baking sheets for five minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

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