Archive | August, 2011

tastes like december

2 Aug

I started the search for the perfect molasses cookies my senior year in high school, when I took Ms. Stegall’s writing sem.  Every now and then, she would bring in these cookies–I can remember the fragrance of mingled clove and cinnamon spilling out into the hallway, the texture of the sugar granules surrounding the buttery molasses goodness.  I don’t know why I never thought to ask for the recipe.

Anyway, this recipe is the best I’ve found.  It’s from the Cook’s Illustrated The New Best Recipe (by the way, if you own just one cookbook, this should be your book).  I’ve had a few requests for the recipe in the last year (I might bring them to small group from time to time), so without further delay…

Molasses Spice Cookies

courtesy e.r.


2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cup (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 unsulphered molasses


1 Preheat oven to 375°F.  Mix together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice together in a bowl and set aside.

2 Use an electric mixer and beat the butter for 2 minutes.  Add the brown sugar, and 1/2 cup granulated sugar and beat 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 down sides of bowl with a rubber spatula.

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

4 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.

5 Bake until the outer edges of the cookies begin to set and centers are soft and puffy, about 11-12 minutes, do NOT overcook.***  Cool cookies on sheets for 2 to 3 minutes before transferring them to cooling racks .

*** The centers of the cookies should be somewhat soft and spongy (they look under-cooked) when you take them out of the oven, otherwise they will end up hard and dry.

There’s an optional glaze, but I’ve never tried it…I really think these cookies are the cat’s pajamas without the added hoopla (though Eric and I once made them with homemade cream cheese frosting, but that was pretty much just an excuse to eat frosting with a spoon).  Now I just need to try a gluten-free alternative…rice flower?  Otherwise I’ll be forced to stick with frosting and fro-yo, I suppose.  And chocolate.


1 Aug

John and I stayed at “our” place in the city last night (a.k.a. our friend’s studio that he is generously letting us enjoy while he’s away).  I don’t think we even realized how wonderfully like a vacation it could be.

John just got his schedule and realized that he had two days off in a row.  When in residency, this was almost unheard of, so I think we’re still in the take-advantage-and-go-do-something-while-you-have-the-chance mode…not a bad place to be.  We ran down our list of options: camping; B&B; trip to Fallingwater; another treehouse overnight; a quick excursion to NYC or D.C.  Then we though, f— it.  We totally love road-tripping together and all, but sometimes the last thing you want to do is really go somewhere.

This Center City studio gave us the luxury of having a night on the town (without having to worry about staying sober enough to get home) and the novelty of staying somewhere other than at our actual home (pretending for a night to be a fancy-smancy two-home type of couple…yyyeeaaaah, with hundreds of thousands of dollars of student loans, like that will be happening ever).  After dinner and fro-yo, we finally made it out to this old speakeasy I’d been hoping to try.  I had the Continental Divide, followed by the Dead Turk., and I was completely sloshed.  Hep A has really done a number on my tolerance.

We slept in, then had brunch at Ants Pants, which is kind of an institution around here.  I’d never been because the line is always around the block on the weekends, but at 11am on a Monday, it was pretty sleepy.  Deliciously so, in every respect.

It was one delightfully sticky summer retreat in the city, a very much appreciated getaway!