This is the time of year for cookie swapping parties and food bloggers are getting into the act thanks to the efforts of Lindsey (LoveandOliveOil.com) and Julie (TheLittleKitchen.net). These lovely ladies organized the cyber-swap (the second annual), matching each of us with three other bloggers. I sent a dozen Molasses-Spice cookies to each of the bloggers on my list and I received three dozen delicious cookies in return from three other Secret Santas.
Thankfully, there was no pressure to fill yet another holiday season time slot with activity. We didn’t have to be on our best behavior or wear nice (meaning “I CAN’T PLAY FOOTBALL IN THESE PANTS!”) clothes. In fact, The Boy and I opened each gift box we received after bathtime each night so we were wearing pj’s and slippers and drinking tea or hot chocolate.
All in all, it was a fun experience. With as many cookies as I’ve baked in my lifetime – hell, with as many cookies as I’ve baked in the last MONTH – I was still a little anxious to make sure they were all perfect. I hope Alissa (Sweat Tea and Sunshine), Candace (Candy Girl) and Ausra (Vaikai ir Vanile) enjoyed the cookies they received as much as we enjoyed those sent to us!
Many thanks to the bloggers who sent me cookies this year!
Melissa at I Was Born to Cook sent Toffee Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies (think florentine or lace cookie only more substantial).
Madeline at Munching in the Mitten sent a bag of Chocolate Chunkers (a Chunky candy bar in cookie form).
Lauren from West Coast Girl, East Coast Life sent a pretty bag of Ginger Molasses Cookies (also excellent with ice cream).
The Molasses-Spice Cookies were the most asked-about cookies at our Open House at the Farm. Every time I went to the snack table to refill and refresh someone asked for the recipe. I had an older man ask me who made all the cookies. I replied that I did. “You’re coming home with me. Pay no attention to what my wife says.”
Perhaps the sweetest request came from a boy about 12 years old, about my height [which isn't saying much, I know] and full of wide-eyed innocence. “Excuse me, can you give me the recipe for these spice cookies please?” Here it is, kiddo… hope you’re reading!
Usually the brownies are the hit of the day, and they were popular this year, too, especially the ones with Andes mint chocolate chunks stirred into the batter. I never expected an old-fashioned spice cookie to nab top billing, but, they’re fabulously crunchy around the edges and delightfully chewy in the middle. With a mug of steaming hot apple cider or a cold glass of eggnog, what’s not to love?
In fact, it’s worth a trip to the store to get vanilla ice cream to turn these yummies into ice cream sandwiches. Trust me.
Chewy Molasses Spice Cookies
(from Martha Stewart Everyday Food)
2 cups AP flour
1 1/2 t baking soda
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t ground nutmeg (preferably fresh)
1/2 t salt
1 1/2 c sugar, divided (1 cup + 1/2 cup*)
12 T unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg
1/4 cup unsulfured molasses
* 1/2 t maple flavoring/extract, optional
Oven: preheat to 350°
Combine dry ingredients (flour through salt) in a bowl and whisk to blend. Place 1/2 cup sugar in shallow bowl and stir in maple flavoring if desired. The maple sugar will feel a bit like moist sand once the extract is incorporated. Set sugar aside to use later.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together butter and remaining 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg [Please tell me you crack eggs into a small bowl first and then pour them into the mixing bowl with other ingredients. You really don't want to risk a shell falling into the dough. That is NOT the kind of crunch we're after!] and then the molasses, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Gradually beat in the dry ingredients with mixer on low speed. Beat just until dough forms and all flour is incorporated.
Using a cookie scoop is the easiest way to form the cookies if you are looking for uniformity. Of course you’re looking for uniformity because you know the cookies will cook evenly, stack nicely and just look lovely. Use a cookie scoop (or a tablespoon measure) to portion out balls of dough, then roll balls in the maple sugar. Place dough balls on parchment lined baking pan, one dozen per pan.
Bake cookies for 10-15 minutes, until golden and crisp around the edges. [I know - huge variation in cooking time. It was 12 minutes in my oven. I had 2 pans going at once, rotating and swapping racks halfway through baking. Get a thermometer. Know your oven ] Cool cookies on pans 1-2 minutes then remove to cool completely on a wire rack. I usually just slide the whole sheet of parchment right off the pan and onto the rack. It’s easy and I’m lazy.