Sandra’s Really Good Molasses Cookies with candied ginger and balsamic vinegar

really good molasses cookies with candied ginger and balsamic vinegar

If you’re a chewy cookie fan this recipe is for you. Ditto if you love ginger.

This is a recipe from my friend Sandra who called the cookies “Really Good Molasses Cookies” because that’s what they’re called on her hand-written recipe card.

Plus, they are really good molasses cookies. Chewy, with that lovely crackled top.

really good molasses cookies with candied ginger and balsamic vinegar

That’s the great thing about hand-me-down recipes. Unlike hand-me-down clothes (such as the ones that I grew up wearing from my older sisters and cousins), recipes that have been passed along from family and friends are always favourites and welcome additions to your recipe box.

My horrible hand-me-down clothes are chronicled in my annual school photos. They weren’t old enough to be cool or vintage and weren’t current enough to be made of natural fibres, so there I sit in my school photos with the tacky landscape background in scratchy polyester pantsuits.

But back to the cookies…

really good molasses cookies with candied ginger and balsamic vinegar

 

Adding balsamic vinegar to molasses cookies was my mom’s idea. She discovered a balsamic cookie recipe years ago and we have been enjoying it ever since in her molasses-meets-Italy cookies that I’ll feature one of these days.

Sandra’s Really Good Molasses Cookies

Ingredients:

  •  2 cups sugar (plus more for rolling)
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup Grandma Fancy Molasses
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. cardamom
  • 1/3 cup chopped candied ginger

Method:

  1. In a large bowl cream sugar and butter until fluffy.
  2. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  3. Mix in molasses and balsamic vinegar.
  4. In another bowl, whisk dry ingredients.
  5. Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture about a cup at a time, mixing well. Stir in candied ginger.
  6. Form into 11/2″ balls. Roll in sugar.
  7. Place on parchment lined cookie sheet 2″ apart. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.  (They puff up in the oven, but flatten as they cool.)

Tip: No need to use whole wheat pastry flour if you don’t have any on hand. The original recipe called for all-purpose flour only.

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Here’s to eating well, everyday,

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Orange Spice Crackle Cookies

orange spice crackle cookies with a lovely crinkle top

If you had to choose your all-time favourite cookie, could you do it? Could you narrow down your choices so that one and only one cookie emerged as the favourite?

I know I could.

I’d choose these orange spice crackle cookies, and this is why:

The cookies are beautiful to look at:

The cookie sparkles with sugar crystals and the crackly top promises great texture. One of my colleagues calls this sort of recipe earthquake cookies because of the lovely crackled surface.

The cookies have great texture:

Crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside. Who could ask for more?

The cookies have comfort-food flavor with a twist:

Ginger molasses cookies are comfort food for me. There the sort of cookies that my grandmother used to make. These have the ginger and molasses nostalgia with the zest of an orange to take the flavor in a new direction.

orange spice crackle cookies with a lovely crinkle top

With all of the cookies that I bring into the office for testing this is the recipe that got the most rave reviews.

Don’t be deceived by appearances. Although this cookie looks kind of humble it is full of flavour and texture surprises and is the perfect treat to share with friends.

orange spice crackle cookies with a lovely crinkle top

Orange spice crackle cookies

  •  3 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • Grated zest of one orange (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup Grandma Fancy Molasses
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Sugar for rolling
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. In a medium bowl combine flour, spices, baking soda and orange zest.
  3. In a large bowl cream together butter and sugar. Add egg, molasses and vanilla.
  4. Stir in dry ingredients and mix until combined.
  5. Form into 1 ½” balls and roll in sugar.
  6. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until set.

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Here’s to eating well, everyday,

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Classic German spice cookies – the beguiling Pfeffernusse

 Pfeffernusse German spice cookies

 

 

I’m beginning to think that there are two Christmas cookie camps: there’s the very sweet, sometimes gooey, chocolate-usually-included camp and there is the often spicy, been-around-for-hundreds-of-years, goo-less camp.

A simplified view, I know, but the idea of special Christmas cookies covers the gamut.

For me, simple is beautiful. I love traditional cookies with complex flavours and pleasing textures, exotic spices and no food colouring.

Pfeffernusse German spice cookies

 

I eat more than my fair share of chocolates over the Holidays and I won’t turn my nose up at gooey sweets but when push comes to shove it’s the unassuming cookie on the tray that catches my eye.

Take these Pfeffernusse for example. These German Spice Cookies of my childhood are a humble-seeming biscuit that didn’t really catch my eye until I was in my 20s.

I have no German roots but my mom is an adventurous baker and was always drawn to European treats. I grew up eating Saint Lucia buns on December 13, Lebkuchen decorated with candied angelica and Vienna crescents rich with ground nuts. We devoured cardamom gingersnaps, Linzer cookies and pfeffernusse alongside shortbreads and Aunt Mary’s sugar cookies.

Pfeffernusse German spice cookies

 

This isn’t the exact recipe I grew up with though. Since pfeffernusse translates to “peppernuts” I was wondering about the “nut” bit. My recipe has lots of ground pepper but no nuts so I went hunting for other recipes and came across this version, complete with ground almonds, citrus zest and rolled in spiced icing sugar.

Slightly chewy and very aromatic these cookies became a new family favourite, especially for my 13-year-old who also has a fondness for Timbits.

 

German spice cookies – Pfeffernusse

Adapted from Chow.com

 For the cookies:

  • 3 cups flour (I used 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour and two cups of white flour)
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup ground almonds
  • ½ cup butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp. packed finely grated lemon zest (from about 2 medium lemons)
  • 2 tsp. packed finely grated orange zest (from 1 medium orange)
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup Grandma Fancy Molasses

For the spiced sugar:

  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ground allspice

Directions:

For the cookies:

  1. In a medium bowl whisk together dry ingredients (flour through almonds).
  2. In a large bowl beat together the butter and lemon and orange zest. Add the brown sugar in three batches and mix until well combined.
  3. Beat in the egg then the molasses.
  4. Add the flour mixture in three additions, mixing until just combined.
  5. Cover and refrigerate the dough until firm, at least 1 hour.
  6. Roll the dough into one inch balls and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet (at least an inch apart).
  7. Bake at 350 F for about 12 minutes. (Don’t let the bottoms get too dark).
  8. Let them cool a bit then drop warm cookies into the spiced icing sugar and cool on a rack.

For the spiced sugar mixture

While the cookies are baking, sift all ingredients together into a large bowl; set aside.

To freeze, don’t roll them in the sugar mixture until they’re thawed and ready to eat.

Do you have favourite Holiday recipes that you make year after year? I’d love to hear all about them.

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 German spice cookies pfeffernusse

Chocolate gingerbread cut-out cookies

chocolate gingerbread cut-out cookies

Baking gingerbread cookies is the most enduring tradition in my household.

I grew up baking cut out cookies with my mom and then we’d paint them with a simple milk and icing sugar frosting. My brothers, sisters and I would spend half a day at the kitchen table with bowls of tinted frosting, red and green sprinkles and little silver balls, decorating dozens of cookies and listening to Roger Whittaker’s Christmas album. To this day the song Darcy the Dragon takes me back to the kitchen table in the house where I grew up.

chocolate gingerbread cut-out cookies

I still love painting Christmas cookies and my kids consider it a sacred Holiday tradition so there is at least one day before Christmas when we all sit down to an afternoon of painting, usually with a few friends.

My kids are masters of the one-tonne cookie, a cookie that is so loaded with icing and sprinkles that you need a spatula to lift it off the table and onto a plate to dry.

cookie painting

Whatever you bake for the Holidays, you’ll notice that it’s not so much the finished product that creates the memories, but the whole process…

For me it’s digging out the cookie cutters, and having my kids by my side at the counter as we roll, press and lift the cut-outs onto the cookie sheet.  It’s the sweet and spicy smell of the house when the cookies are in the oven and the giggles in the kitchen as we paint and sprinkle away.

chocolate gingerbread cut-out cookies

This chocolate gingerbread recipe is a new take on gingerbread cut-out cookies. They have an intense chocolaty flavour but aren’t overly sweet, making them perfect for decorating and sandwiching. The dough is soft and barely needs flour for rolling. If you want the cookies to be harder just bake them a little longer.

chocolate gingerbread cut-out cookies

Chocolate gingerbread cut-out cookies

From Food & Wine magazine

  • 3 ¼ cups flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 Tbsp. ground ginger
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. cloves
  • 1 Tbsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ cup + 2 Tbsp. butter
  • ½ cup (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 1 lg. egg
  • ½ cup Grandma Fancy Molasses
  • 2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted

 

  1. In a medium bowl whisk the flour with the cocoa, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  2. In a large bowl beat the softened butter with the brown sugar until fluffy.
  3. Beat in the egg, then molasses, then melted chocolate.
  4. Add the flour mixture in three batches, incorporating well between additions.
  5. Scrape dough from bowl and divide into three equal pieces. Pat each piece into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate until chilled.
  6. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to about ¼” thick.  (You really won’t need much flour.)
  7. Place cut-out cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  8. Bake at 350 F for about 7 minutes.

This lovely dough is a synch to mix and roll:

 Chocolate gingerbread cut-out cookies

Chocolate gingerbread cut-out cookies

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Gluten free pumpkin spice muffins with molasses and candied ginger

Gluten free pumpkin spice muffins with molasses and candied ginger

I’m still finding my way in the gluten-free baking world but must say that it isn’t as intimidating as I once thought.

We were at friends’ for supper over the weekend and had our fill of very delicious gluten-free dishes. We enjoyed pizza with gluten-free dough, baked brie wrapped in gluten-free pastry a dairy-free chocolate cheese cake with a gluten-free crust.

No need to feel deprived in the gluten-free world.

gluten free pumpkin spice muffins with molasses and candied ginger

These muffins are my first bread-like, gluten-free adaptation of a standard recipe. It’s our yummy pumpkin spice muffin recipe made with an easy gluten-free four blend that I discovered in the great cookbook from Cybele Pascal :

The Alergen-Free Baker's Hanbook

Whether you simply can’t tolerate gluten, or if you’re just trying to consume less gluten, these muffins are a great way to get your bread fix in a homemade way.

Gluten free pumpkin spice muffins with molasses and candied ginger

Adapted from Daily Garnish. Makes 12 muffins.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups of GF flour blend*
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. allspice
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/2 cup Grandma Fancy Molasses
  • 1/2 cup cooking oil or melted butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup chopped walnut pieces
  • 1/4 cup crystallized ginger, minced

*Gluten-free flour blend:

From Cybele Pascal’s The Alergen-Free Baker’s Handbook

  • 4 cups brown rice flour (extra fine)
  • 1 1/3 cups potato starch (not flour)
  • 2/3 cup tapioca starch (also called tapioca flour)

 Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients (including brown sugar).
  3. In a medium bowl whisk the eggs with the pumpkin mixture then add the oil, molasses and vanilla.
  4. Gently fold the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until almost combined. Toss in the walnuts and ginger (reserving about 1 Tbs. of the ginger and 3 Tbsp. of the walnuts to sprinkle over top of the muffins before baking.)
  5. Gently fold the walnuts and ginger into the batter.
  6. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups and bake for about 30 minutes (until a tester comes out clean).

 gluten free pumpkin spice muffins with molasses and candied ginger

 

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If you’re in search of family-friendly food that’s easy to prepare, healthy and tastes good, then sign up to receive blog posts by email. The sign-up form is on the top left hand side of this page. We’d love to send you our monthly newsletter too. Our Making Life Delicious newsletter includes cooking tips, menu ideas and featured recipes. Here’s the link to our monthly email sign-up form.

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Pumpkin spice bread with molasses and ginger

 Pumpkin spice bread with ginger and molasses

 

My mom would sometimes put cloves, ginger and cinnamon in a little pot of water on the stove and simmer it all afternoon, sending the smell of gingerbread throughout the house.

It was often a way to get rid of other cooking smells but there is something about those smells that makes a cool house feel warmer.

It’s a good trick when you don’t have time to bake cookies or bread.

 

Pumpkin spice bread with ginger and molasses

But when you do have something spicy and sweet in the oven, or cooling on the counter, the house can feel so inviting and cozy.

That’s how I felt when this pumpkin spice bread with molasses was in the oven.

It’s a wholesome treat, makes a big loaf and is great for snacking. (I love it with homemade blueberry jelly.)

Pumpkin spice bread with ginger and molasses

Pumpkin spice bread with molasses and ginger

Adapted from Food52

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. melted butter
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1/4 cup Grandma Fancy Molasses
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh ginger (optional)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Topping:

  • 1 tsp. turbinado sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Butter and flour a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan or line it with parchment paper.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ground ginger, and nutmeg.
  4. In another bowl, whisk together the egg, pumpkin, brown sugar, butter, oil, molasses, and buttermilk. Add the fresh ginger (if using) and vanilla.
  5. Make a well in the dry mixture and pour in the wet ingredients.
  6. Stir gently until just combined.
  7. Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan.
  8. In a small bowl, mix the turbinado sugar with the remaining teaspoon of cinnamon and sprinkle over the top of the batter.
  9. Bake 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  10. Let cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

If you’re craving a house that smells of cinnamon and ginger try our delicious apple gingerbread.

Apple gingerbread

 

One more thing…

If you’re in search of family-friendly food that’s easy to prepare, healthy and tastes good, then sign up to receive blog posts by email. The sign-up form is on the top left hand side of this page. We’d love to send you our monthly newsletter too. Our Making Life Delicious newsletter includes cooking tips, menu ideas and featured recipes. Here’s the link to our monthly email sign-up form.

Here’s to eating well, everyday,

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Double ginger molasses ice cream and memories of the ice cream truck

 Double Ginger molasses ice cream with powdered and crystalized ginger

My earliest ice cream memories are of the sound of the bell on the ice cream truck.

I remember the thrill and anticipation.

But I don’t remember the actual ice cream truck. And I have no memories of actually buying an ice cream at the side of the road.

It all makes me wonder if there really was an ice cream truck in my neighbourhood. It makes me wonder if my older brothers and sisters were teasing me and my twin brother when they’d tell us they heard the bell and send us running to the end of the driveway.

Double ginger molasses ice cream with powdered and crystalized ginger

My next ice cream memories are of eating Dairy Queen Dilly Bars. I remember the swirl of the chocolate coating the feel of the first bite to crack through it. I can still picture drips of vanilla ice cream dribbling down the stick and I remember thinking it was a poor design to have that much ice cream balanced on one little stick.

I remember Neopolitan ice cream in a carton at my birthday parties. And I remember serving myself butterscotch ripple ice cream, searching out the veins of butterscotch.

I have vivid memories of Ben and Bill’s Chocolate Emporium in Bar Harbor Maine and their homemade ginger ice cream (oh so creamy and studded with crystalized ginger). I used to order it in a dish so no dribbles would be lost as my husband and I roamed the streets of that pretty town.

And now I bring you to a brand new ice cream memory, my mom’s ginger molasses ice cream. Finally, after 14 years, I’m eating homemade ginger ice cream again, and I’m pretty excited about it.

 

Double ginger molasses ice cream with powdered and crystalized ginger

 

Ginger molasses ice cream

  • 3 cups 35% cream
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 cup Grandma Fancy Molasses
  • 1 tsp. powdered ginger
  • ½ cup crystalized ginger, finely chopped
  1.  Bring 2 cups of the cream and the 1 cup of milk to a boil in a heavy saucepan.
  2. In another bowl whisk together egg yolks and molasses.
  3. Gradually whisk the hot cream mixture into the egg-molasses mixture.
  4. Return the mixture to the saucepan until the mixture thickens and leaves a path on the back of the spoon ( 185°F)
  5. Remove from heat, whisk in the powdered ginger and remaining 1 cup of cream.
  6. Place custard in fridge till well cooled. (Can be made 2 days ahead)
  7. Process custard in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  8. Stir in candied ginger
  9. Freeze

Recipe adapted from our recipe for coffee molasses ice cream.

 

One more thing…

If you’re in search of family-friendly food that’s easy to prepare, healthy and tastes good, then sign up to receive blog posts by email. The sign-up form is on the top right hand side of this page. We’d love to send you our monthly newsletter too. Our Making Life Delicious newsletter includes cooking tips, menu ideas and featured recipes. Here’s the link to our monthly email sign-up form.

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