Monday, March 24, 2008
Molasses Spice Cookies
I'm not a huge fan of spice cookies, much less crunchy spice cookies. When I have to choose a cookie recipe I tend to go for something involving chocolate and/or oatmeal that bakes up soft and chewy with nuts sprinkled throughout to give me the crunch I want. So when I started flipping through my new cookie book (Carole Walter's Great Cookies) this recipe would not have been my first choice... hell, it probably wouldn't have made my top 50 for the book -- but I let Chris choose and he loves crispy, crunchy spice cookies.
These cookies bake up thin and crunchy/chewy. They aren't rock hard like some spice cookies get, but they will probably harden up as time passes (if they last that long of course.) Instead they have a very appealing crispy crust with a thin layer of soft cookie in the middle. Part of the crispy crust comes from the sugar that the dough was rolled in before baking, but I think the other part comes from the batter which uses melted butter instead of soft butter. In regular cookie recipes the butter is creamed with the sugar and while you don't beat a lot of air into the butter and eggs -- you still incorporate some. In this variation, the sugar is stirred into the melted butter and no air is involved -- which partly results in the flat cookie, but also gives it a really nice texture.
I'm still not a spice cookie lover, but this has certainly been one of my favorite variations on the theme and now I can see some of their appeal.
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups all purpose flour, spooned in and leveled
2 tsps baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cloves
2 cups sugar, divided
1/4 cup dark molasses
1 large egg
To make the dough:
Melt the butter in a 3-quart, heavy saucepan over low heat. (This cookie is mixed by hand in the pot) Cool to tepid.
Strain together three times the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, salt and cloves. Set aside.
Using a wooden spoon stir 1 1/2 cups of the sugar, the molasses and egg into the butter, mixing until smooth. Add the dry ingredients, one-half at a time, and blend well. Cover with wax paper and chill for 30 to 45 minutes, until firm.
To bake the cookies:
Preheat oven to 375 and lightly grease baking sheets (or use silpats or parchment paper.)
Shape the dough into 1-inch balls between the palm of your hands or using a cookie scoop. Place the remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a low dish and roll the balls of dough in the sugar. Place the balls 2 inches apart on the cookie sheets.
Bake the cookies for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the tops begin to crack. Remove from the oven and let stand 2 to 3 minutes. Losses with a thin metal spatula and transfer to cooling racks.
Storage: Store in an airtight container, layered between strips of wax paper, for up to 3 weeks. These cookies may be frozen.