Lest you get the very wrong idea that everything we cook turns out beautifully, here is a post where I am keeping it real.
I loves me some autumn and little says fall like baking a batch of cinnamon-y smelling cookies.
I saw this recipe on Saucy's blog and on a nice, chilly Sunday afternoon in October, it sounded ideal.
I didn't use the exact recipe she used because that one was a Martha Stewart recipe and naturally had persnickety ingredients. Like what is unsulfured molasses? Is that regular ole molasses? See, I didn't know either.
Allrecipes.com had a molasses cookie recipe that had a nice high rating and a jillion reviews.
Things began well enough. You start with butter. What can go wrong when a recipe starts with a bowl full of butter?
I melted the butter, let it cool a bit, and added it to the sugar and egg, per the recipe's instructions. I added that mixture to a mixture of flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, ground cloves, and ginger (yummmm...those spices smelled good).
At this point, the cookie dough is refrigerated for at least one hour. Around the holidays, I like to make Plum Spice Cake. It's an easy, dense cake that's baked in a bundt pan. This cookie "dough" reminded me of that batter - it was about the same color and smelled very similiar and also, was like batter, not like cookie dough.
I was begining to have misgivings but I'd gotten emotionally vested in these cookies - these fallish cookies, so perfect for munching on by the fireside after a cozy dinner. Right?
I dutifully refrigerated the dough/batter but I knew in my heart of hearts that these cookies were probably going to flop.
Because I thought it would be fun to learn something after the fact, I went back to the recipe online and then read the reviews rather than before I began baking, which would have made more sense. Cooks mentioned substituting brown sugar for the white sugar and increasing the spices, but no one mentioned the batter/dough being an odd consistency for cookies. I wondered if I'd accidentally put only 1 cup, rather than 2 cups, of flour. No, the two-cup measuring cup was still on the counter with bits of flour in it.
After about an hour and a half I got out the dough/batter from the fridge and we rolled pieces into walnut-sized balls, then dipped each one into orange sanding sugar, until Dear Son dropped the canister and spilled the rest, at which point we turned to festive orange and black sprinkles.
When I bake cookies, I always, always refrigerate them after they're shaped and on the cookie sheets. It helps them hold their shape, which is particularly true of cut out cookies. I slid the baking sheets with cookies in the refrigerator, then preheated the oven.
I baked the cookies for the prescribed time and when I took them out of the oven, this is what greeted me:
Sad cookies. Sad, sad cookies.
They don't look that bad in the photo but the fun part came when I tried to lift them from the silpat onto a cooling rack. I used a thin metal spatula. The cookies scrunched and scooted whichever way the spatula went, leaving me with thin, crinkled, oddly-shaped cookies.
The cookies smelled divine and actually tasted good if you don't mind buttery and then more buttery (which I don't). They'd be good crumbled over vanilla bean ice cream. But for chewy, molasses-tasting cookies? Not so much.
They spread a lot and were quite flat, something none of the reviews I read mentioned. I had to scrape the bottom of the orange box to get the two teaspoons of baking soda the recipe called for. I'm thinking the baking soda may well have been old and that's why they didn't do right. What do you think? Any food scientists out there?
I'm going to try them again, because they were easy and scented the kitchen with autumn smells, always a plus in my book.
3/4 cup margarine, melted (I used real butter)
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup molasses
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup white sugar, colored sugar, or sprinkles
In a medium bowl, mix together the melted margarine, 1 cup sugar, and egg until smooth. Stir in the molasses. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger; blend into the molasses mixture. Cover, and chill dough for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Roll dough into walnut sized balls, and roll them in the remaining white sugar or sprinkles. Place cookies 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, until tops are cracked. Cool on wire racks.