Monday, March 21, 2011

Nana Cookies

Dear Kate,

In honor of your Christmas gift to me, a copy of The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook, I have been working my way through the cookie section week-by-week.  This week's selection, Molasses Spice Cookies, was not your favorite as molasses is not your favorite flavor.  But for your dad, one bite and he was transported to your great-grandparents', Asa and Vina Adams, summer camp at Cold Stream Pond in Maine, where he spent many a summer vacation.  Apparently every year he would be greeted by a big plate of Nana Adams' molasses cookies, so closely associated with her that they were referred to simply as "Nana Cookies."  Someday you may find you enjoy a spicier cookie and if so, this is well worth making.

Molasses cookies also make me think of my dad, your Pops.  Mention molasses around him and you are likely to hear him warn you that molasses is so deadly it once killed 21 people in Boston.  He is referring to the Great Molasses Flood when a 50-foot tall tank of molasses ruptured sending a tsunami of 2,300,000 gallons of molasses up to 15ft high and moving at up to 35 mph.  I bet he has told you that story too.  Frankly, if I had to drown in a food, I think I would chose the London Beer Flood over the Great Molasses Flood, but that is another story altogether.

You can chose to call them Nana Cookies or Great Molasses Cookies, but I call them yummy.

Nana Cookies
Adapted from The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook

1/3 Cup sugar, plus 1/2 Cup for coating
2 1/4 Cups (11.25 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 Teaspoon baking soda
1/2 Teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 Teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 Teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 Teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 Teaspoon table salt
12 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/3 Cup dark brown sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 Teaspoon vanilla
1/2 Cup molasses

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment or silpat, or lightly grease.  Place 1/2 sugar into a shallow dish for dipping the cookie dough balls you will prepare.

2.  Stir together the flour, remaining sugar, baking soda, ground cinnamon, ground cloves, ground allspice, ground black pepper and salt in a medium bowl.

3.  In a large bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and vanilla and mix on medium speed for 30 seconds.  Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.  Scrape the bowl down as needed.

4.  Scoop about 1 tablespoon of dough into your hands and rolls into a ball.  Drop until five formed balls into the sugar from Step 1 above.  Roll to coat and place on cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart.

5.  Bake for about 11 minutes, rotating cookie sheets halfway through.  Be careful not to overbake - they should appear slightly underdone.

6.  Cool on the cookie sheet briefly, then remove to a wire rack to cool.

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