Sunday, December 7, 2008

A Spoonful of Sugar

Baking with a child can be magical. Not in the enchanted forest way, but in a "fill your heart" happy way. Every little detail of the recipe occurs with presence. Whether it is cracking an egg or sifting the flour, a million questions are asked and hopefully patiently answered. There is total awareness of each step accompanied by thoughtful explanation. I am training another baker, after all!

So, when I found myself curled up on the couch with MaryJo, I was delighted when she wanted to bake. She really loves baking with her Aunt Nay Nay! I am so lucky. Our ritual is the same, she grabs a cookbook from my shelf and begins searching for the perfect recipe. She narrows it down to a few choices, and once we read the instructions, the pantry and timing help us make a decision. On this particular day, Molasses Spiced Cookies took the honor.

Baking is very therapeutic for me. When I am baking solo, there are times when I drift into the zone. It's more of a zen-like state, but nevertheless, I am baking and thinking - but not about each other. When you add a child to the mix, it's all about the baking. You are thinking about the ingredients, the techniques, and the "whys". And, at the end of the day, when it's time to sprinkle the cookies with sugar, the sugar becomes the pixie dust ending for this magical day.

This is the time of year when holiday baking goes into full gear. There are many cookies, cakes, pies, and confections to mix, stir, and bake. With Christmas parties and family gatherings, many goodies are expected, if not required.

So for the next few weeks, I will be posting more frequently. I have so much to share with you! Enjoy! And remember, when you need a little pixie dust, grab a child and get baking!

Molasses Cookies
adapted from
Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon all-spice
Pinch of black pepper
1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup of packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup of molasses
1 egg

about 3/4 cup sugar for rolling and sprinkling

Whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, allspice and pepper. This ensures they are well distributed. With a mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. And the brown sugar and molasses and beat until incorporated. Add the egg and beat until combined. Slowly add the flour, beating until just incorporated. Take care not to over mix once you add the flour. The last few turns of the spatula are best done by hand. You will have a creamy, soft dough. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a least one hour.

When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line your cookie sheets with parchment silicone mats. Put the sugar in a small bowl. Pinch off enough dough to form a 1-inch ball. Roll the dough between your palms to form a ball. Then roll the ball in the sugar to coat evenly. Place on the cookie sheet - two inches apart. Using a flat object, slightly press on the cookie dough to flatten. You are aiming for a thickness between 1/4 and 1/2 inch.

Bake the cookies for 12-14 minutes. When done, sprinkle the tops with sugar and transfer to a cooling rack.


The Scobes! said...

Those cookies look delightful!

Megan said...

I'll bet your house smells like Christmas with these jewels.

Megan said...

I'll bet your house smells like Christmas with these jewels.

The Blonde Duck said...

I wanted to stop in and say hi! These cookies look great!