The Twenty-ish Days of Christmas Cookies: Day 1, Molasses Crinkles

The other day I was looking through desserts online to try to find a Thanksgiving-type pie to bake for some friends. While I was searching, I stumbled across epicurious.com’s 25 Days of Christmas Cookies site, a collection of the website’s top-rated cookie recipes. As I started flipping through the slideshow, Jay said, “We can do this.”

“Don’t tempt me,” I responded, “I would totally bake one of these every day and blog about it, but it might be expensive.”

Jay: “Well isn’t it mostly flour and sugar and stuff?”

We didn’t talk about it much after that, but the idea had lodged itself in my brain. My unemployed days can get pretty boring, and baking the Texas State Fair Pecan Pie had reminded me about how much I enjoy cooking and baking, so it seemed like a fine plan to me. I didn’t mention it to Jay again until he was coming home Tuesday Dec. 1 and asked him to pick up a few things at the store. I purposefully chose the first cookie as one that we had most of the ingredients for already, so we wouldn’t have to break the bank to get a lot of exotic ingredients or spices. Thus, I came to make molasses crinklers.

I have no idea why they’re called crinklers. Maybe it has something to do with the large granulated sugar on top. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the cookies, when cool, can be a little firm, breaking like a crackler, although it probably has something to do with the way the tops of the cookies seem to crack when they cook. Regardless, these are some dense, savory cookies best enjoyed with (and dunked in) a glass of milk. When I started forming them, I misread the recipe and used a heaping TABLEspoon scoop, rather than a heaping teaspoon, but I think I like the bigger cookies better. I made a few in the recommended size, and they just seemed too small and dry to me. I like the larger size because they maintain a little chewiness in the center.

One great thing about these cookies is that they are rediculously easy to make and take almost no time at all. They were definitely fun to make and a good warm up to other Christmas cookies to come. I’m really looking forward to working with other recipes in this steady approach to Christmas.

Only one problem ….

…. who’s going to help me eat all these cookies?

Molasses Crinkles
(original recipe Gourmet 2004)

Ingredients
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable shortening at room temperature
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup molasses (not robust or blackstrap)
About 1/3 cup sanding or granulated sugar for tops of cookies

Preparation
Whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves, and salt in a bowl until combined.

Beat together shortening, butter, and brown sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes in a stand mixer (preferably fitted with paddle attachment) or 6 minutes with a handheld. Add egg and molasses, beating until combined. Reduce speed to low, then mix in flour mixture until combined.

Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 375°F.

Roll 1 heaping teaspoon of dough into a 1-inch ball with wet hands, then dip 1 end of ball in sanding sugar. Make more cookies in same manner, arranging them, sugared side up, 2 inches apart on 2 ungreased baking sheets.

Bake cookies, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until undersides are golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes total, then cool on sheets 1 minute. Transfer to racks to cool completely. Make more cookies with remaining dough on cooled baking sheets.

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