I was browsing Amazon.com for cookbooks, when I had an amazing idea: Why not test-drive these books before buying? So, I went to my library’s Web site and requested every cookbook on my Amazon wish list. A few days later I was trekking home (in the rain) with 50 pounds of borrowed cookbooks, ready to start testing away.
Dorie Greenspan is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit magazine, and I’ve been wondering if I’d like her book, Baking: From My Home to Yours, but it seemed a little too cliché. After all, there’s a whole blogging culture around this baking book and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to join the crowd. But, I couldn’t help but be seduced by the friendly prose, stunning photography and simple-yet-special recipes. This is a home bakers’ book, with a collection of Dorie’s personal favorite recipes – the kind of book I feel like every baker can only produce once in their lifetime. After just a quick flip-through, I couldn’t wait to jump in. I’m looking forward to adding a few of Dorie’s recipes to my own baking repertoire. (And this book is definitely staying on my Amazon wish list!)
The first recipe I tried was Dorie’s Molasses Cookies. They’re chewy, a little crispy and oh-so flavorful. I ate almost the entire batch on my own (DANGER: They’re completely addictive!), and I’m making a fresh batch this week to take home for Thanksgiving. It’s a wonderful all-purpose, “anytime” cookie, easy enough to make for no reason at all and special enough to make for occasions of all kinds. I love it!
Recipe adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan
2 1/3 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I love using the more pungent Vietnamese cinnamon in cookies. Try it if you can get it!)
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper (Dorie says you can add a large or a small “pinch” of pepper, for a little savory kick. I added a small pinch and I think that was good.)
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses (not super-strong versions)
1 large egg
An extra 1/2 cup white sugar, for rolling the cookies in before baking
In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, allspice and pepper.
For the wet ingredients, in a large bowl beat the butter at medium speed (in a stand mixer or with a hand mixer) until it’s smooth. Beat in the brown sugar and molasses and mix for about 2 minutes. Add the egg and beat for 1 minute longer. Then, with your mixer on low speed, mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined (use a rubber spatula to mix in any dry ingredients that get caught in the bottom of the bowl). The dough will be very soft.
Divide dough in half and wrap separately in plastic wrap, forming the dough into two thick disks. Chill for 1 hour (it will keep in refrigerator for up to 4 days, if you want to make ahead). Or, to speed up the chilling, you can pop the dough in the freezer for just 30 minutes.
These cookies bake best on the oven’s center rack, one tray at a time. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare your baking sheets by lining with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
Put your 1/2 cup of extra white sugar into a small bowl. Work with one half of dough at a time, and divide into 12 pieces (recipe makes 24 large-ish cookies – I sliced my disks of dough like a pie to easily eye-ball even slices.) Roll each piece of dough into a ball and give it a toss in the bowl of sugar. Then place on the cookie sheet, leaving plenty of room between each cookie (These are spreaders! I only put 8 on a sheet at a time). Dip the bottom of a glass into the sugar and press down on the cookies until they’re about 1/2-inch thick.
Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, or until the tops feel set when you poke them with your finger. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack. Some cookies will probably end up touching as they spread out, but use your spatula to separate them while they’re hot and you won’t be able to tell later.
I dare you not to eat them all at once! They’re great dunked in a glass of milk or a cup of coffee. Dorie says they’ll last a week in a cookie jar or up to 2 months wrapped up in the freezer, but I wouldn’t know – mine were gone in a flash!