Ye Olde Blackstrap

Cinnamon Molasses Cookies (adapted from here - I make smaller cookies and use less salt in the topping than that recipe calls for)

1 c. (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. blackstrap molasses
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs, beaten
4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking soda
2 Tbsp. cinnamon

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Slowly add in molasses and vanilla, mixing until well combined (this involves considerable scraping of the bowl, FYI).  Add eggs and mix well.  In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients.  Add dry ingredients to the wet ones, and mix thoroughly.  Dough will get pretty stiff and will most likely form one considerably large ball.  That's when you know the dough is right.  Refrigerate the dough for 1-4 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a small bowl, mix 2 Tbsp. sugar, 1 Tbsp. cinnamon, and 2 tsp. salt.  Roll dough into one-inch balls (larger if desired) and then roll in the sugar mixture.  Place on a cookie sheet or preheated baking stone and press down with a fork.  Bake 6-8 minutes.

I got inspired to purchase Blackstrap Molasses recently.  By inspired, I mean that it was cheap and at our local health food store (two things that typically don't coincide).  I had visions of using it as an alternative sweetener - the Mr. and I have already switched to using honey in coffee/tea/oatmeal instead of sugar, but I thought it'd be nice to have a little variation, you know?  So, on Day 1 of Blackstrap Molasses Inspiration, I made oatmeal for breakfast and put about a tablespoon of molasses in each of our bowls.  Mix that in with the oatmeal and a few raisins ... mmmmmmlegch.  It was gross.  It tasted like burnt coffee - really burnt coffee - and had no inkling of sweetness in there.  We salvaged the breakfast by heaping spoonfuls of sugar into our bowls, and somehow made it through.

I was crushed.  Maybe that is why it's cheap ...

So, I decided that I had two options.  First, pour it down the drain and deal with the loss of my $2.64.  Second, research molasses and find out what the deal was.  I (obviously) went with the second and opened my mom's loaner copy of American Cooking (from the early 80's, I think) to the page for Molasses and read that among the four types of molasses, Blackstrap is the most unpalatable variety and should be avoided at all costs (well, it said something like that.  I may have paraphrased a bit). 

I still wasn't sure I could part with my $2.64.  I mean, it was sold in the store - it must have SOME use.  Maybe I could make a cleaner out of it, or baste a turkey with it.  I decided to disregard the wisdom of the book and try to find something on internet, like every good twenty-something should do (she said sarcastically).  My first few attempts at allrecipes.com and southernliving.com turned up a disheartening mound of nada.  But I scrounged around a little more, determined that my $2.64 was going to be worth it, and stumbled on this recipe, that happens to be from a blog that I like to read anyway. 

The cookies turned out to be really good.  They're sweet - though not overwhelmingly so - and great as just a light snack with a cup of coffee.  The cinnamon/sugar/salt topping is interesting (in a good way, of course).  The original topping recipe calls for a whole tablespoon of salt but the Mr. and I found that to be a little too much.  But, feel free to adjust the topping to your tastes.  And, may I suggest hanging onto the 6-8 minute cooking time.  Don't be tempted to cook them longer.  With just those 6-8 minutes, they stay soft and don't get crumbly at all.

So, I have to confess that $2.64 worth of Blackstrap molasses is enough for 5 batches of cookies.  And, since it's apparently the only thing in the world that Blackstrap molasses is good for, I'll go ahead and say that I'm bringing cookies to the next potluck.

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