I had a nice surprise yesterday in the mail! When a resident receives a package, a little tags is hung in that resident’s mailbox door as a signal to go and see the concierge to pick up the delivery. I’m usually expecting something in particular when one of those appears in my mailbox. Yesterday, I noticed the shiny little tag and started trying to remember: Had I ordered a new stockpile of Vitamuffins? Did I place an order with Sephora for lip products that taste like s’mores? Was Amazon supposed to be sending me… anything? The answer was no. A bit excited, I went to the desk to see what was waiting for me, and I found a birthday/Valentine’s day package sent by my aunt.
Inside the box, I found some fun things for the kitchen as well as some adorable little sachet boxes. At the bottom of the box, there was a cookbook: Light Desserts by Beatrice Ojakangas. A new cookbook! Well well well… something to play with over a long weekend! I also think it might be the most fragrant cookbook I’ve ever owned thanks to its journey alongside the sachets.
My aunt bought this cookbook some time ago and decided it needed a new home. I’m usually happy to take in stray cookbooks, and I find that even some of the weirder ones on my shelf have provided inspiration. Before introducing this cookbook to the rest of the “pack” (I think cookbooks travel in packs…), I decided to look through it. As I was flipping through the book, I started getting in the mood to bake. More specifically, it put me in the mood to bake molasses cookies.
My papaw had quite a sweet tooth (but never a weight problem…), and my memaw was in the habit of making something sweet for him to enjoy at the end of a meal. Lemon ice box pie, fresh coconut cake, pecan pie, molasses or peanut butter cookies… there was almost always something awesome for dessert. If, for some reason, there weren’t any homemade treats available, my papaw kept an emergency jar of vanilla wafers on the cabinet. That jar now sits on my cabinet and usually has low point cookies or biscotti in it. Hmm… is having a sweet tooth hereditary? Anyway, molasses cookies made a frequent appearance, and I always loved them. I loved the melt-in-your-mouth texture… and I loved sneaking them out of the cookie jar when no one was looking.
Molasses, (or “sawghum” as my papaw called it) is one of those foods that I seem to forget about unless I’m on the hunt for a cookie or making gingerbread. I used to love mixing up a big puddle of butter and molasses and using it as a dip for rolls or biscuits. That type of eating isn’t an everyday occurrence anymore, but I could definitely put molasses in my oatmeal without derailing any weight loss efforts. For that matter, I should use it as a sweetener more often given that, unlike sugar, it has actual nutrients (including calcium!!) in it. I’m making a note to try that tomorrow! When I came across a molasses cookie recipe in this “new to me” cookbook, I decided to make some. Of course, I couldn’t help but tweak the recipe. Here’s my version:
Recipe adapted from Light Desserts by Beatrice Ojakangas copyright 1989
1/3 cup butter
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg white
2 Tbsp. molasses
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. all purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 Tbsp. sugar
Cream butter and brown sugar, beating well at medium speed of an electric mixer. Add egg white, beating until smooth. Stir in molasses.
Combine flours and next five ingredients in a medium sized bowl; add to butter mixture and beat well. Cover dough and chill at least 8 hours.
Divide the dough into 13 portions (I weighed the dough in grams, divided by 13, and then used my scale to get them all the same size.) Roll each portion into a ball and dip the tops of the balls in the 1/2 Tbsp. of sugar. Place balls of dough 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray or lined with a Silpat. Bake at 375 degrees for 11-13 minutes. The tops will crack or “crinkle.” Cool on wire rack and store in an airtight container.
Makes 13 unofficial 2 point cookies (why 13? Read more below… Trust me…)
Since the cookbook is from 1989, back before margarine and its trans-fats were characterized as unhealthy, it called for margarine. For my money, baking with butter is almost always better anyway as far as results go, plus, you aren’t eating any weird chemicals or things that can’t be pronounced using less than four syllables. I immediately started out by changing the margarine to butter. I haven’t bought margarine in years. I wasn’t going to start now!
When measuring the molasses, I sprayed my measuring spoons with a little cooking spray first. The molasses should then slide right out of the spoon with no problem!
I thought that the spicy dry ingredients were so pretty! I changed the original recipe to include some whole wheat flour because I like the nutty and chewy texture it lends to cookies. It also helps the nutrition profile a little bit. As a bonus, it adds another color to this mound of dry ingredients:
As you can see, this makes a very small amount of dough. Small is what I’m all about! This was perfect!!! I put it in a smaller bowl before I stuck it in the fridge to chill.
In addition to changing the margarine to butter and working in some whole wheat flour, I changed the number of servings. That is, in my opinion, the most exciting change I made to this recipe!! If you flip through a big all purpose cookbook, like the old school Betty Crocker cookbook, you will probably find that most recipes make between 4 and 12 servings. Some might make slightly more, and others might make slightly less. Generally, each recipe makes a pretty reasonable number of servings– UNTIL you get to the cookie section. I know that, in part, it can be hard to break recipes for baked goods down into smaller quantities. Still, I don’t need 8 dozen cookies unless I have a party to attend or some hungry colleagues at work. What I really wanted was to be able to make a dozen cookies. Period.
I got pretty close. I cut the recipe in the cookbook in half to begin with. Then, I plugged my ingredients into the magic gadget on the WW site. I’ve been enjoying some 2 point Kashi cookies this week, and I know that I don’t mind spending 2 points on a cookie– especially if I savor it with a big cup of tea. That makes it last longer. I decided to see how many 2 point cookies I could make, and the answer was 13. This is known as a “baker’s dozen,” and that’s just fine with me! As I mentioned above, I weighed my batch of dough, divided by 13 and then used the scale to measure out the proper amount for each ball of dough which got rolled up and coated with sugar.
Weighing my dough on the scale may seem like a bit much, but I don’t know of an easier way to get all of my cookies to be the same size (and, consequently, to get an accurate points count per cookie). Plus, I watch too much “Unwrapped” on the food channel, and I often see them use a scale for things like this. Who says that television is a waste of time?!
My final opinion on these cookies is that they are good, but not as large as I would have liked. They are pretty close in size to the Kashi cookies, but slightly smaller. That’s my only complaint. I’m so excited to have figured out how to make such a tiny batch! The next time I’m in the mood to bake, but not in the mood to pawn cookies off on people, I’ll be making these. I like the texture and the flavor, although I might actually add an extra pinch of each of the spices next time, and I really enjoyed the one I tried with a cup of Sweet Thai Delight tea from Yogi Tea. That is one of my absolute favorite teas ever!! It has a bit of exotic spice and a hint of coconut that went well with this cookie. When I grow up, I think I’d like to specialize in cookie and tea pairings (similar to wine and food pairings.) That seems like it would be a pretty sweet gig!