Friday, December 9, 2011

Molasses Crinkles

It's December and yesterday I began my Christmas baking.  At our house it wouldn't be Christmas without these molasses crinkles.  They seem to be one of everyone's favorites.  Chewy, buttery, crispy, spicy molasses cookies with crunchy sugar. I love these cookies with a glass of good bourbon on the rocks, or with a cold glass of egg nog, and of course they are amazing with a tumbler of ice cold milk.  This cookie is the taste of childhood.

Most recipes for molasses crinkles I have read call for shortening.  Why?  Why why why?  Shortening has no flavor, why on earth would one use a flavorless glop of fat in a cookie?  Stop the madness I say!  I use butter.  In fact I have found that the better the quality of the butter, the better these cookies are (Plugra is exceptional).  I am starting a revolution against the use of shortening.  You wouldn't spread shortening on your toast, why use it in your baking?  Just trust me on this.  There isn't anything in the world you can make with shortening that isn't a million times better when made with butter.

I also much prefer using a coarse granulated white sugar on top of these cookies.  They can be made with ordinary table sugar, but coarse sugar makes the cookies sparkle and the crunch is pure magic in your mouth.  Coarse white sugar can be difficult to find, but Wilton makes a good product (they call it white sparkling sugar) that can be found at most craft stores in the cake decorating aisle.  For me it is worth the torture of going to the craft store, enduring the visual assault of horrific glittery blue poinsetta wreaths (really? blue silk poinsettas with glitter? REALLY?) just to get this sugar.  You should make the same sacrifice because it makes a huge difference in these cookies (and that glass of bourbon will help calm your nerves afterwards).

Yes, it IS worth going to the dreaded craft store, just to get this sugar.

One more word.  I store these cookies in an airtight container, separated by layers of wax paper, with a single slice of bread.  I really don't know why, but the slice of bread keeps the cookies tender and soft.  Leave the bread out and the cookies become hard.  Christmas magic!

Molasses Crinkles
(makes about 7 dozen small cookies)

1 1/2 cups best quality butter, softened at room temperature
2 cups packed brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
2 eggs, room temperature
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour (I prefer White Lilly)
4 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
coarse granulated white sugar (about one cup)
1/4 cup water
1 slice bread

Butter and eggs MUST be at room temperature.

In the bowl of a mixer combine room temperature butter and brown sugar.  Cream better and sugar until light and fluffy, scraping sides of bowl occasionally (about 5 minutes).  Add molasses and cream for an additional minute.  Add room temerature eggs and cream for 3 more minutes until very light.

In a separate large bowl combine all dry ingredients except coarse granulated sugar, and whisk until well-combined.  Add dry ingredients to butter mixture and mix on low speed until. all dry ingredients are just incorporated.  Cover dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Roll cookie dough into 1-inch balls, dip in water and then coarse granulated sugar.  Place on a greased baking sheet, sugar side up.  Bake 9-11 minutes until cookies are puffed and slightly cracked on top.  Remove from oven and let cookies "deflate" for 2 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

 Cookie balls covered in coarse sugar before baking...

 ...and after!

Cool cookies completely before transferring them to an airtight storage container, separated with layers of waxed paper.  Place a slice of bread on top and seal.

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