My mother has been feeling a little down, lately, and when she mentioned a yearning for molasses cookies, I jumped at the chance to cheer her up at least a little. (I personally loathe and despise molasses cookies, and would be even more depressed to receive a box of them. But I digress). Looking through my cookbooks I found all sorts of tarted-up variations, but I knew that what she wanted was the kind of plain, honest, cookie that she remembered from childhood. Lacking any resources from her youth, I turned to one from mine – the 1963 edition of the Ladies’ Home Journal Cookbook which I “borrowed” from my parents’ house about seven years ago.
As I had suspected, this vintage beauty was the kind of cookbook that had, not only a recipe for molasses cookies, but for molasses bars, custard, milk, popcorn balls, praline creams, praline ice cream and taffy. Whew! It also had some kickass technicolor pictures, which I am including mainly because I did not take pictures of the cookies (for reasons I will disclose in the fullness of time) and have cavalierly promised to start taking pictures and including them in my posts.
When it came time to do the actual baking, I discovered that I had no ginger. The recipe calls for both cinnamon and ginger, and although I had a brand new bottle of Saigon Cinnamon, there was no ginger, dried, fresh or even crystallized. The proverbial light bulb went off in my head (the energy saving kind, of course) and I remembered that Garam Masala was made up of cinnamon and ginger, among other things; I have quite a lot of that, fresh, homemade and aromatic. My mixture also happens to include bay leaves and black pepper, but I thought of pfeferneusse cookies and decided to take the plunge. In place of the separate cinnamon and ginger I added two teaspoons of Garam Masala. The cookies were fantastic, if I do say so myself. They were soft, and a little spicy, but it certainly wasn’t as if one were eating curried molasses cookies. It just all worked together for the greatest possible good. I did not photograph the cookies because I made them “dropped” rather than rolled, and they were pretty ugly. Next time I cook someting and believe that seeing a photographic representation will cause you all to lose control, run to the store for ingredients, and make your own, I’ll take a picture. This was not that.
Molasses Cookies – Traditional or Masala
(Adapted from Ladies’ Home Journal Cookbook, 1962 edition)
- 1 cup butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup molasses
- 1 teaspoon ginger
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon (or replace 5 & 6 with 2 teaspoons Garam Masala)
- 3 1/2 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup cold water
Preheat oven to 375.
Cream butter and sugar, add eggs, molasses, ginger and cinnamon (or Garam Masala).
Sift the flour with the baking soda and salt.
Add the sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture, alternating with the cold water.
Drop by spoonfuls onto greased baking sheet, parchment paper or silicone baking sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes. These may also be rolled and cut with a cookie cutter (if you are out of your mind), but you will need to add a little more flour and chill the dough as its quite sticky.