When I think of molasses cookies I think of Christmas, grandmas, and family traditions – in other words a cookie with some history. Conversing with others it becomes so apparent that food has such a strong tie to memories. When I started talking to people about molasses I received many good stories. One women said she despised molasses because it brought memories of an impoverished childhood when everyday she received the same sandwich of only margarine and molasses. To her molasses represented a painful period where she and her family hoped for something more. But another women I spoke with had a far more pleasant view. As a girl this second lady had always made molasses cookies with her father and just the smell of molasses now reminded her of him and their kitchen time together. A third women said molasses makes her think of rain. I inititially thought I had heard her incorrectly. She then shared how at her childhood home in Chile whenever it was raining her mother would make a fried patty to dip in molasses for eating enjoyment. The grown woman now fondly recalled those rainy distant days when she would rush home from school knowing an amazing treat from her mother awaited her.
I have to admit I have never been a big fan of molasses cookies for I have always found them rather heavy and strong. But I am at a stage in my life now where I am open to new and even older under appreciated things. Mission motivated, I set out to develop a molasses cookie that was both contemporary and really tasty that even I would like. I wanted to find unique flavor combinations that would compliment and enhance molasses special characteristics. I searched my flavour thesaurus book by Niki Segnit identifying some wonderful combinations, but nothing featuring molasses. Necessity is the mother of invention, so I knew I had to get creative which was a daunting task as I had only previously created original jam recipes. That realization became my spark of inspiration as I used my homemade jam combination ideas as the foundation for a refreshingly modern Crosby’s molasses cookie.
One of my favorite jams I made this past summer was a fig jam with calvados liquor, balsamic vinegar with spicy undertones. I knew these sweet, sour and spicy flavours would fittingly complement the molasses. For added texture I used chopped dried figs that I soaked in Calvados liquor. I incorporated my homemade jam, but you can substitute with Dalmatia fig jam and add 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and 1 tablespoon of Calvados liquor to achieve similar taste.
The other special addition to this recipe is my own candied ginger. At Christmas I had produced a massive batch of candied ginger (one of my father’s favourite treats) whose excess still required a purposeful home. The other truly modern spin on this cookie is goat cheese. This came from further taste tweaking as I shifted from my original all-butter based cookie by substituting 1/4 cup of the butter for soft unripened goat cheese. It made a huge difference in both cookie taste and texture.
1/2 cup unsalted butter (browned)
1/4 cup chevre – soft unripened goat cheese (I used a local Ontario artisan cheese- Cestbon)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup Crosby’s fancy molasses
1/4 cup fig jam + 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar and 1 tablespoon Calvados liquor
1/4 cup bold honey
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons candied ginger(chopped extremely fine)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup dried figs soaked in 1/3 cup of Calvados liquor
– 3/4 cup granulated sugar
– 1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 cup icing sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons ice syrup
1) chop dried figs into small pieces and soak in liquor
2) place butter in saucepan and heat on medium until butter starts to separate and brown on bottom
– watch carefully as you do not want your butter to burn
– you can strain your butter to omit the larger brown bits, but I left mine in for more flavour
– pour butter into small bowl and let cool to room temperature (it should start to harden again, which is OK)
3) in a large bowl beat cooled brown butter and goat cheese until creamy
4) add both sugars to butter-cheese mixture until light and fluffy/ can use stand mixer or hand beater
5) add egg to mixture and beat until combined
6) in a small bowl add molasses, honey, jam, balsamic vinegar, calvados liquor and mix until smooth
7) add Crosby’s molasses mixture to butter/cheese mixture and beat until combined
8) in a separate bowl sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon
6) add candied ginger to flour mixture
8) add flour mixture to butter mixture and mix until combined do not over mix
9) drain figs and add to dough and mix by hand with wooden spoon
10) wrap dough and chill for minimum 1 hour
Pre-heat oven to 325F
Line baking sheets with parchment paper
11) using a small cookie scoop make 1″ balls and roll in cinnamon/sugar and space cookies about 2″ apart (these cookies will spread)
Bake for 12-14min or until brown on edges (center should still be soft) remember they will continue to cook when out of oven
Transfer cookies to wire rack and let cool
I noticed after that these photo’s had smudges – I realized this was butter splatter from taking photo earlier- Opps!
1) mix icing sugar, maple syrup, ice syrup in small bowl – whisk until smooth and pourable
2) using a piping bag or with fork drizzle on top of cooled cookies
The fig combination was my 1st cookie. My hubby said I had struck gold and there was no need to experiment with other flavour combinations. There were several things I wanted to improve, I could not resist “Mo” tweaking. The above fig and molasses (figgymo) recipe was my final submission.
Below are two “Mo” good options, I initially developed with the purpose of creating the perfect molasses cookie.
My second contemporary Crosby’s molasses cookie had Eastern inspiration beyond Saint John, New Brunswick. I love tea. It has endless possibilities in baking. I thought a black tea – Twinings classic Lady Grey loose tea – infused with orange, lemon, and bergamot flavours would be amazing. I paired these flavours with a bold honey and a touch of Grand Marnier to enhance the orange flavor. I was certain this was going to be my favorite. Although I did like how this cookie held its form, the flavour combination was disappointing and bland. This flavour experiment did not deliver the burst of flavour I had desired..
OK on to my 3rd Crosby’s “Mo” cookie. About this time my hubby is saying, “What in the world are you doing? Go with the 1st figgy cookie!” He did have a point as I was baking while my contractor was trying to replace our kitchen back splash. Not the best timing for baking to be sure, but inspiration waits for no man (even a handy one) and I could not wait to create the perfect Crosby’s molasses cookie.
The night before I had made a glaze for our pork tenderloin dinner that consisted of brown butter with sage and Crosby’s molasses. The flavour combination was amazing! The lights went on in my head and I thought, “I wonder if this would work in a cookie”?
So my third cookie contained brown butter, sage and for some added sweetness Candian Ice syrup (ohhh so tasty – just like ice wine but better!). I also sprinkled the tops with grated maple from Ninutik. Yes, you read that right, very cool cube of maple sugar that you grate like cheese. Both of the above products I have been dying to use since I purchased them at the food show last year.
I loved cookie number three. The subtle flavor of the sage mixed with the molasses and the crunchy maple topping were a perfect match. Compared to the others, this cookie had the perfect consistency: crunchy on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside. My son who is a traditionalist (meaning chocolate chip cookies all the way) tried one of these cookies and said they were “Really good”. I did not tell him what was in the cookie or he never would have eaten it.
Now for the hard part, I had to take what I really liked from all three cookies and somehow combine them into the perfect, amazing, glorious molasses cookie!
Cookie #1: Fig combination
– best flavor combination
– rolling in raw sugar was a negative as too hard and crunchy on outside
– cookie did not hold shape well- it was flimsy and really too soft
Cookie #2: Black Tea Cookie
– weakest flavor combination
– held shape extremely well ( this dough was left in fridge longer then others) not on purpose
– cookie was rolled in a cinnamon/white sugar before baking which had a really nice texture and taste to cookie
– baking powder was added which helped with spreading and crunch of cookie
Cookie #3: Browned Butter Sage
– loved the caramel flavour that was added by browning the butter
– I liked the maple flavour but did not look very appealing on cookie
– the shape and consistency of this cookie was perfect ( dough was chilled for 1 hour and cooking time was 12-14min)
Right about now you are probably wondering why I would go to so much trouble to develop a molasses cookie when I am not even a fan of them. For the challenge, of course! Well also there is the small chance my original molasses cookie recipe will be chosen by Crosby’s Molasses “Sweet Dreams Contest” and be represented at the Food Bloggers Conference in Vancouver. How cool would that be?! Wish me luck … and more importantly create my fig & molasses cookie and let me know if you also think it is the absolute best molasses cookie you have ever tasted. Even if you are not the Baker of Seville, it’s scrumptous taste is likely to have you pleasurably singing, “Figgy-mo! Figgy-mo! Figgy-mo!”