Monday, 4 February 2013

2005 - A Molasses by Any Other Name Would Taste As Sweet

Lyle's, Britain's oldest brand,
was purchased by Domino
(American Sugar Refining) in 1921.

I walked to town in search of molasses on Wednesday (Dec. 7). Neither of the two grocery stores carried them. They sold treacle and golden syrup (and sometimes even maple syrup, as a specialty item) but no molasses. I finally found it at the health food store, of all places! So many of my cookie quandaries have led me to research a food that I previously took for granted — like molasses.

So let me share what I know now: I could have bought the treacle! It's basically the same thing: uncrystalized syrup made during the refining of sugar.

See, sugar cane is boiled three times during the refinement process. The first boiling produces golden syrup, which is the sweetest of them all. Golden syrup is not used in the States, where corn syrup is the predominate choice.

Treacle or molasses result from the second boiling of sugar cane. The third boiling produces blackstrap molasses, which has the lowest amount of sugar and the most pungent taste. 
Brown sugar — including turbinado, muscovado and demerara — is also a by-product of the first boiling. It is the molasses in these sugar crystals that make it brown sugar (3.5 percent for light and 6.5 percent for dark).

Molasses, treacle, golden syrup, honey and corn syrup are all prized by bakers because they are non-grainy (invert) sugars, which are sweeter than sugar in baked goods, keep them moist longer, and prevent crystallization.

Molasses contain iron, calcium, magnesium
and potassium, and a low glycemic index.
I didn't know any of this until after I bought the molasses though. So, molasses in hand, I mixed up the dough for Moravian Spice Cookies and popped it into the fridge overnight. It is a very stiff dough and the cookies are a lot of work but I enjoyed making them again. I wound up with 16 dozen (182 disks). Martha says you get more than 300! No way. Again, my pet peeve — yield predictions that never come close to my actual yield. There is a lot of waste with these cookies too because you bake the dough as a sheet and then cut out the cookies. I don't mind though because Mom loves the scraps to put on vanilla ice cream!

Meanwhile, I made a double batch of Snickerdoodle Pinwheels. They're so cute! And Charlie loves them. The recipe made four logs, which produced 8 1/2 dozen cookies. I love making these  — rolling them up so they get a nice spiral. They need to chill in the fridge before they can be baked;  I used paper-towel tubes to chill the dough so they kept a nice, round shape. I was able to get them into the oven right after I picked up Charlie from school. I had to be careful not to over bake, so that they come out nice and chewy.

Mom called a few times today; she's been having problems with her cookie results; they have been too wet. So we kept going over everything and decided it was due to the fact that she had melted (instead of softened) the butter. I also suggested she not use diet (or low-fat) butter. As for her Pumpkin Bread, which didn't rise well, she probably just needs a new can of baking powder.

While the Snicks were baking, I whipped up a batch of Coconut Cream-Filled Macaroons, from Martha Stewart's 2005 Holiday Cookies magazine. Mom turned me on to them. The recipe calls for unsweetened coconut but I use the same amount of sweetened coconut and reduced the sugar from 3/4 cup to 1/2 cup. They go in the fridge for at least an hour. I was doubtful the "dough" would produce much but I wound up with 28 sandwiches. I would have had 29 but ...

The cookies themselves looked like little potato pancakes! And they were so delicious. I have never had any other cookie like this. I'll be making more of these, for sure. And this year too! The filling is so yummy I could eat it all without the cookies! I usually make these at Christmas but I think they'd be fantastic at Easter too.

Mom sent me the coconut extract that I needed for these (also not to be found at the supermarkets here — although the coconut cream is widely available).

Charlie was watching the Christmas episode of The Simpsons and asked for a Tree Cookie! That means I'll be baking Sugar Cookies this weekend! And Gingerbread Men. And more!

Coconut Cream-Filled Macaroons

Coconut Cream-Filled Macaroons

For the cookies:
3 c unsweetened finely shredded coconut
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large egg whites
1 tsp coconut extract
1/8 tsp coarse salt

For the filling:
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
2 Tbsp cream of coconut (or unsalted butter, softened)
1/4 c vegetable shortening
3/4 c confectioner's sugar
1 tsp coconut extract

Stir together coconut, sugar, egg whites, coconut extract, and salt in a large bowl. Refrigerate, covered, until cold, at least 1 hour or overnight.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Form heaping teaspoons of dough into balls; space 1 1/2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Gently flatten to about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until edges begin to turn golden, 9 to 10 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks; let cool completely.

Put butter, cream of coconut and shortening in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Add confectioner's sugar and coconut extract; mix until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Eat filling with a big spoon. Naw, just kidding. You'll be tempted though — it's dreamy good stuff.
Place a heaping teaspoon of filling on the bottom of 1 cookie. Sandwich with another cookie. Repeat. Transfer to a platter; cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until filling is firm, about 30 minutes. Let stand at room temperature 10 minutes before serving. Makes about 2 dozen. Cookies can be stored between layers of parchment in airtight containers at room temperature up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 3 months.

This recipe was shared with Weekend Kitchen Creations, hosted by The Jenny Evolution.


  1. Replies
    1. You're right, Audrey. I'm glad the recipe makes only two dozen! Thanks!