Friday, August 28, 2009

Chewy Molasses Cookies

We've been experimenting with a variety of new foods around here, and one of them happens to be coconut sugar. We've actually tried it on a number of things, and at long last found a local supplier for it. That's a big deal to us, because in the past we've had to order it from a variety of sources. Coconut sugar isn't made from coconuts, but rather from the nectar of the coconut palm flower. The description from the website is that 'the sugar has a toffee flavor." That's truly a very accurate description too! Now, here's the catch, it's not sugar, and while you can replace it scoop for scoop for sugar you'll find the texture of the coconut sugar a tad different. For instance, it's a very dry granule, and the "granules" are much more defined then a grain of sugar. It doesn't effect how well it works to sweeten the food though. We do not use it in everything, as we still like our Stevia, but we have a few tried and true recipes that we use coconut sugar for and really enjoy. One such recipe is the boys morning Monkey Face Oatmeal. Yup, that's really what it's been dubbed! One of the reasons I was so eager to try coconut sugar was for the sake of cookies. The one thing I've yet to find a GOOD recipe for was molasses and chocolate chip cookies. Which means, when my bag of coconut sugar came I started working on a molasses cookie recipe. It took a batch or two, because not only were we experimenting with the coconut sugar, but we had to make them dairy free due to Jayden's newly discovered lactose issue. While this recipe calls for margarine, what we use is a nut butter of sorts. It's called Nuttelex and it uses oils from nuts and seeds. Anyway, here's what we finally came up with:

Chewy Molasses Cookies

Place 1/2 c of dairy free margarine (or butter, we have made them with butter before) and 1/2 c coconut oil (we use a virgin organic) in a mixing bowl and cream together until light and fluffy and well blended. Add 1 1/2 c of coconut sugar to the bowl and mix again until light, fluffy, and well combined. You'll need to scrape the bowl down as it goes, but it won't take long. It will be brown and grainy, but well mixed and fluffy just as if you'd used sugar.

Add 2 eggs (we use free range) and 1/2 c molasses (you can get this in Australia, but if you can't find it treacle will work) mix well. It should look like the picture above when well mixed.

Mix together 4 c flour (we use organic unbleached, sometimes with extra bran sometimes without..), 2 1/4 t. baking powder (we use aluminum free), 1 1/2 t cinnamon, 1/2 t salt, 2 1/4 t ginger, & 1 1/2 t mixed spices (or cloves, but we use mixed spices because I never seem to have cloves, you can also omit this without altering the flavor too much..) mix well and add to the cookie batter. I like to mix it up by hand at first so the flour doesn't "poof" all over the kitchen, then I give it a quick mix with my mixer to be sure it's well incorporated.

Here's the catch on using dairy free nut butter/margarine. The cookies often don't cook throughly, but the bottoms of them will burn anyway! It was a maddening lesson to learn, but I quickly found a solution (after burning a panful of strawberry scones!). Put a cooling rack on your cookie tray, and put a piece of aluminum foil over that. There's no need to grease the foil or worry about it sticking. I simply scoop up tablespoons of cookie dough, roll them, flatten slightly in my hands and place on the cooling rack. I do not roll my molasses cookies in extra sugar, mostly because I'd rather be a bit more conservative with my coconut sugar, but we also find them sweet enough just as they are. Bake for 8-10 minutes. From there you can remove the entire piece of foil to another cooling rack or you can pull the cookies off and place them on a cooling rack. We've done it both ways before..

Sometimes they crackle on the top and sometimes they don't, if yours don't crackle don't panic! I'm pretty sure you'll still have to stand guard with a spatula to fend off the hungry ones from eating them up before the poor cookies even have a chance to cool! Once cooled, I store them in a tin for the few meager days they last (okay, I admit it-- Hours that they last).

Notes: Because coconut oil can melt (if you have the good stuff) at the drop of a hat you may find the need to refrigerate your dough between baking, or perhaps even before rolling. I tend to stick my bowl of cookie batter in the fridge while I have a pan load baking. This keeps the dough from getting too soft, which would be essential in the summer baking months.

Want a full copy of the recipe on a handy little recipe card? You can download it here. You'll need to print, cut, and laminate. Enjoy.

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