So, here we go. People have been telling me for ages that I need to start a blog about cooking so I can share my culinary talents with the world. Here’s the first attempt. I’m sure that the blog will evolve as I go-as I’m really new at this (I even inadvertently deleted my first post). However, I’m NOT new at cooking!
Cooking (and especially baking) has been my passion for as long as I can remember. It has been my survival kit, my therapy and my hobby. I obsess about cooking! I read cookbooks, watch food TV and spend endless hours in the kitchen. Lucky thing that I work for my husband-I have even taken time off to cook! A new or complicated recipe is a challenge to improve on it. A dinner at a fine restaurant is a game to guess the ingredients.
This blog will be full of recipes, pictures and tips! It will include my successes and my failures AND what I’ve learned from them. I hope that you can learn from them as well.
Cookie season is now upon me. I have had to cut down on how many kinds of cookies I make each year because my kids once counted 5000 cookies in my freezer! Now I make about 15 different kinds each year, some old standbys, some new-all delicious! I give out trays of cookies as gifts and people really do look forward to receiving them. At the salon where I get my hair cut they call me “the Cookie Lady”!
First up is Crackled Molasses Cookies. I got the recipe from a friend about 20 years ago and have been making them ever since-only BETTER! These are rounds of sweet, spicy deliciousness. They are reminiscent of gingerbread, but (I think) with a better texture. They are great with tea or coffee or even milk. The recipe makes a bunch (60-90, depending on how heavy-handed you are) and they freeze really well (a plus when you’re making many, many cookies). The recipe comes first and then my tips and tweaks. Enjoy!
Crackled Molasses Cookies (Original Version)
2 cups shortening 2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups brown sugar 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 eggs 2 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
2/3 cup molasses 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cloves
5 1/3 cups all-purpose 2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
flour granulated sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cream together shortening, brown sugar, eggs and molasses. Add dry ingredients and spices. Mix dough, it will be stiff. DIvide in half and refrigerate, dough handles better when cold.
Use a rounded one half teaspoon of dough. Roll between palms to make a ball. Roll ball of dough in granulated sugar. Place balls on an ungreased cookie sheet. Dip the bottom of a glass in sugar and use it to slightly flatten dough.
Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes depending on your oven. Cool sheets for 1 minute and then transfer cookies to a cooling rack. Cool completely before storing. Makes 60 -90 cookies.
1. If you are serious about cookie baking invest in 3, possibly 4 things: SILPAT! These are silicone baking mats, there are all types and all sizes. Most are pretty expensive, but you can’t beat them, cookies won’t stick and you don’t have to grease them. Cookies won’t burn either (unless you leave them in too long!). Teaspoon and tablespoon cookie scoops, your cookies will always be round and uniform. An oven thermometer-no one’s oven is perfect and they can be off as much as 50-75 degrees! And finally, if you can afford it, a stand mixer. They can handle even the stiffest dough, they knead bread dough with ease and meringue is a snap!
2. For this recipe: Use butter flavor shortening-I know, I know it’s not real butter. But it lends the cookies a rich flavor that can only come from butter without sacrificing the chewy texture of the cookie.
3. Use dark brown sugar. For this cookie the flavor of the light brown variety can’t stand up to the spices and the molasses.
4. DO NOT stack the cookie sheets in the oven. I know-it will take twice as long to bake the cookies. But, even if you switch them top to bottom and front to back halfway through, one sheet always loses the characteristic crackles on the top of the cookie.
5. Don’t over or under bake the cookie. Under baked cookies will lose the pleasant crunch of the exterior, over baked cookies will lose the distinctive chewiness.
Up next-Greek Walnut Cookies (Kourabiedes). Until then leave me some comments, criticisms etc. Happy cooking!