Over the past few years, my husband has bought a few vintage cookbooks for me, and I just love looking through the old recipes and notes. It's interesting how much recipe writing has changed over the years. Whereas in one of these old books it might oversimplify a process by stating, "cook sugar in a saucepan until caramelized", perhaps assuming that the cook was experienced enough to understand what heat to use, how dark the sugar should be, etc. But now cooks and bakers expect a much more detailed description of the step-by-step process of such a finicky technique as caramelizing sugar, even including what to do to avoid burning or crystallizing the caramel.
For Christmas, he gave me a Hershey's 1934 Cookbook, with either cocoa powder or chocolate syrup used in every recipe, and as I paged through it, these chocolate molasses cookies just sounded so good that I wanted to stop what I was doing and make them immediately. Imagine my disappointment to discover that we were out of molasses.
The next day, though, I made a point of picking some up while we were out running errands, and that evening, the kitchen was filled with the scent of freshly baked cookies. I changed the recipe up a little, of course, adapting it for high altitude as well as evening out the ingredients a little (because why would a recipe be written to use 7/8 of a cup of flour instead of just a full cup?).
With the bitter cocoa and rich molasses, the cookies were spicy and not too sweet, soft and full of plump raisins, and after we ate a few warm cookies straight from the pan, I made the rest into ice cream sandwiches with the last of the toffee ice cream I'd made over Thanksgiving weekend. Delicious.
Chocolate Molasses Cookies
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar, divided
- 1/3 cup molasses
- 1 egg
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup raisins
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa powder. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture just until combined. Stir in the raisins. Refrigerate dough for 1-2 hours, or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 375. Roll the chilled dough into balls, and coat each ball in the remainder of the sugar. Place two inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet and flatten slightly with the palm of your hand. Bake for 7-8 minutes, until set around the edges, but still soft in the middle. Cool on the pan for 1 minute, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.
Yields about 2 - 2 1/2 dozen cookies
Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen, adapted from Cocoa-Molasses Drop Cakes by the Hershey's 1934 Cookbook