Salty Sweet Molasses Almond Cookies

These cookies are full of butter, almonds, and some magical allure to have another and another and another. They are crispy, crunchy, salty, and full bodied molasses sweet.

The original recipe is from a delightful cookbook called “The Farm,” given to me by a reader and far away friend. (Hi, Jessica!) I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve made from it. This recipe called for raisins and walnuts. I subbed thinly sliced almonds for the walnuts, nixed the raisins altogether, and added some almond extract for oomph. Oh, I’m so smart sometimes.

A few tips: use a small cookie scoop or teaspoon to shape the dough. These will spread considerably so do not sit them close together as I did at first. Let them cool on the cookie sheet for a couple minutes before transferring to cooling rack. The butter makes them so soft and extraordinary, but not strong enough to hold itself up on the racks at first. I grind my own wheat flour to make it fine and fresh, but sub your flour of choice to similar results.

From my heart, to yours. Find the recipe below.

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Salty Sweet Molasses Almond Cookies

Adapted from The Farm by Ian Knauer

Ingredients
3 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
2 sticks of unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup molasses
1 tsp almond extract
1 cup sliced almonds

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt.

In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until the butter is fluffy, about five minutes. Beat in the egg, molasses, and almond extract. Add in the flour mixture until it is just combined. Fold in the almonds.

Place small scoops of dough on the prepared baking sheet, spacing about 2 inches apart. Bake in batches until the cookies are evenly browned, about 9 to 10 minutes. Let the cookies cool for a couple minutes on the baking sheets before transferring to a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container. Enjoy!

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Coconut Apricot Oatmeal Cookies

Aurelia’s school is closed for a week and I’m part relishing, part agonizing over getting work done from home with a nearly 2 1/2 year old and providing the structure and play she needs at 20 minute intervals. Tea party, go! Playdough, go! Alphabet magnets, go! Caillou, go! Markers on the table, go! Grape juice on the rug, go! The lesson from today was that when times get stressful, I have to step away from the computer, ignore the multiple new messes, and make cookies with my girl.

These are just my kind of cookie. I ate four six of them this afternoon. Dang it. But they are just that perfect balance of crunchy and chewy, barely sweet with a touch of salt, the richness of the coconut with the bold and joyful apricot … ah, it’s just amazing.

I’ve bagged up the remainder and am getting them out of the kitchen quickly, otherwise I know what I’ll be eating for breakfast tomorrow. Ironically, Aurelia doesn’t like cookies, but she is quite the assistant standing on a chair at the counter, helping sift, stir, and taste. Two good memories today: baking with her and eating these irresistible morsels of happiness with a cup of strong coffee.

Coconut Apricot Oatmeal Cookies
Adapted from Operagirl at Chow

Ingredients:
1 cup coconut oil (or butter)
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp coconut extract (or vanilla)
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1 cup dried apricots, roughly chopped (about 24 apricot halves)

Instructions:
If you are using soft, sulfured, commercially dried apricots, you may chop them right out of the bag. If you are using home-dried, tougher, preservative-free apricots like me, you’ll want to soak them in very hot water for half an hour before draining them and chopping. So, do that first if needed.

In a medium bowl, mix the coconut oil and sugar until evenly mixed and no lumps of coconut oil remain. Add the eggs and coconut extract. Stir to combine. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the coconut oil mixture. Next, fold in the oats, coconut, and apricots. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Scoop the cookie dough with a large cookie scoop and place on baking sheet, pressing down on each cookie mound to flatten a bit. These won’t spread much, so you can put them closer together. Bake for 13-15 minutes, until very lightly browned. Remove from oven, and allow to cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.

Pecan Cookies

These were my baking treat yesterday, and heavens, what a treat they are! The recipe started out as pecan sandies, but I took out a cup of oil and used applesauce instead, plus I reduced the sugar and used whole wheat flour of course, so they really aren’t much like traditional sandies. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Just take that reference out of your head now. These are a wonderful, chewy, not too rich, nutty and sweet cookie. You’ll love them. This makes a bunch, so halve the recipe, or give lots away. Everyone will love you.

Pecan Cookies
Adapted from Allrecipes

Ingredients:
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup applesauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup confectioners sugar
2 eggs
1 Tbs vanilla extract
4 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups very finely chopped pecans (I blitz in the food pro)
1/2 cup halved pecans for top

Instructions:
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars. Add the applesauce and mix well, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then add in the vanilla. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt; stir into the creamed mixture. Mix in the pecans. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour. When ready, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Use small cookie scoop or roll dough into 1 inch balls. Press a half piece of pecan in the middle of each cookie. The cookies don’t spread much while baking, so you can place them fairly close together. Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are golden. Remove from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks. Once cool, store in an airtight container for 2-3 days.

 

Chez Panisse Gingersnaps

My awesome Uncle Wayne loves gingersnaps. He helps out on my house often and I try to keep the builders sweetened up. Consequently, I’ve made a lot of gingersnaps with a lot of recipes. I’ll have to ask Wayne which are his favorites, but it became clear to me today that these win in my book. I don’t expect to be looking for a new recipe again soon.

Gingersnaps can be tricky cookies. The amount of flour varies widely between recipes and they can end up too flat or too dry with the incorrect amounts. The butter needs to be whipped a lot. The spices must be strong, but not overwhelming. The difference in cooking for another 2 minutes or less will give you a totally different cookie. A far cry from, say… oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. You can make those a new way each time and they’ll always be pretty wonderful. Gingersnaps may not be as forgiving, but I do believe they satisfy on a higher level.

Don’t be intimidated by the recipe. It’s a lot of steps, but really comes together easily. I altered the recipe very, very little, to include whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose and a bit of salt in the topping. When David Lebovitz and Alice Waters are speaking, it’s absurd to try to trump what they say.

Oh, one last note. I do believe that since I started weighing my flour, the results have been far better. Because I grind whole wheat fresh from the grain, the texture is very light compared to flour that’s been stuffed in bags and sat on a shelf for a while to settle. It took two and a half cups of my flour to equal 280 grams as called for in the recipe. I appreciate the exactness of such directions in baking (and loathe it in cooking), so I’ll be on the lookout for other recipes that include it to compare. What a difference a half a cup would make! If you have a scale, by all means, weigh along.

Chez Panisse Gingersnaps
Adapted from David Lebovitz

Ingredients:
2 cups (280 g) whole wheat flour
1½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground black pepper
11 Tbs (150 g) butter, salted or unsalted, at room temperature
2/3 cup (130 g) sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup (80 g) molasses
1 large egg, at room temperature
For topping:
6 tsp sugar
2 tsp kosher salt

Instructions:
Sift together the dry ingredients. In the bowl of an electric mixer, or by hand, beat the butter just until soft and fluffy. Add the sugar and continue to beat until smooth, stopping the mixer to scrape down any butter clinging to the sides of the bowl. Stir in the vanilla, molasses and egg. Beat for another minute. Mix in the dry ingredients gradually until the dough is smooth.

Divide the dough in two equal portions and roll each on a lightly-floured surface until each is about 2-inches around. Wrap each in plastic wrap then roll them lightly on the counter to smooth them out. Freeze the cookie logs until firm. To bake, preheat the oven to 350F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Slice cookie dough into 1/4-inch rounds with a sharp knife. Dip one side and press firmly in a bowl of 1 part salt and 3 parts sugar, and place sugar-side up on baking sheet, evenly-spaced apart. Leave a couple of inches between cookies since they’ll spread while baking.

Bake for 10-14 minutes, until deep-golden brown. 10 minutes gave me cookies that were slightly under-done, 14 minutes and they were crispy. The cookies will puff up a bit while baking, then settle down when they’re done. Let the cookies cool two minutes, then remove them with a spatula and transfer them to a cooling rack.

Molasses Sugar Cookies

These are decidedly not gingersnaps, but rather the light, easy, sweetheart of a cousin to them. I have a lot of home-canned jars of pears not being eaten in the pantry, so I blended some into a puree. The original recipe for these calls for a cup and a half of shortening. Ugh. I used a cup of pear puree and half a cup of butter instead. I cut the sugar down because of the added sweetness in the pears. The dough was quite sticky and the cookies turned out quite light, not greasy or guilty in the least. I considered them good enough for breakfast two days in a row. Aurelia approved.

Molasses Sugar Cookies
Adapted from Allrecipes

Ingredients
1 cup pear puree or applesauce
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
2 eggs
4 cups whole wheat flour
4 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon salt

Directions
Combine the pear puree, butter, sugar, eggs, and molasses together in a mixing bowl and beat well on medium speed. In a separate bowl, sift dry ingredients together, then add to the mixing bowl. Beat until all dry ingredients are incorporated. Cover the bowl and chill 3 hours or overnight.

Use a cookie scoop or form into walnut-size balls. Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake at 375 degrees F for 8-10 minutes. These cookies will stay soft, but don’t last terribly long. Eat within a couple days or freeze! Yum. Aurelia suggests making them into little sandwiches filled with greek yogurt and strawberries.

Amazing Oatmeal Cookies

I make cakes far more often than cookies because the actual active time required in the kitchen is much less for an everyday cake. Cookies require patience, spooning and baking and cooling and refilling baking sheet after sheet. It gets a little tedious to me. But I was in a bit of a mood today and standing in the kitchen for a long hour doing repetitive work with delicious rewards sounded perfect. Also, it gave me a chance to grind flour. My mother invested in a mill and we get hard white or red wheat from Corn Farms locally. The flour is so fresh and fine, most people prefer the taste or don’t notice much difference in texture from all-purpose flour. It’s certainly a lot healthier and it makes all my baking seem a little bit more justified.

I’ve been waiting to make this recipe for some time and am so happy I remembered it today! These cookies are divine. I ate 6 while I was waiting for the other batches to bake! So then I had to go on a long walk with Aurelia to get some fresh air and workout with Jackie Warner to burn the rest. The result was a lifted mood, a full tummy, and sore quads. Cheaper and sweeter than therapy.

The Best Oatmeal Cookies
Adapted from Allrecipes

Ingredients:
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup raisins
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans

Instructions:
In a small bowl, combine the eggs, raisins, and vanilla. Cover and chill for 1 hour. (Don’t skip this step. It infused the flavors into one another, while plumping up the raisins beautifully.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt, cinnamon and baking soda; add to the creamed mixture and stir until all of the dry ingredients are absorbed. Next, stir in the egg and raisin mixture, then stir in the rolled oats and pecans. Dough will be stiff. Drop by the scoop onto an unprepared cookie sheet. I used a small Pampered Chef cookie scoop for these and it made 2-bite cookies. I highly recommend the scoops or anything similar. They make each cookie uniform in size and shape and make the whole process a lot quicker and cleaner than bothering with teaspoons. You may need to cook your cookies longer if you use a bigger scoop.

Bake for 7-8 minutes in the preheated oven, until the edges are golden but the centers still look doughy. Allow cookies to cool 5 minutes on the baking sheet before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.