Monday, December 5, 2011

Christmas Baking Time--Some Skill Required

This recipe calls for molasses which may be hard to find in some parts of the country, well at least real good molasses.  Many of the brands found on store shelves contain corn syrup to stretch the real cane molasses.
Growing up in the mountains as I did I watched molasses being "worked" as it was called on many occasions.  Good molasses are made from cane which my grandfather grew each year so we could make fresh molasses for our own use and to give away. He and grandmother (Mammy) gave away gallons of the sweet delectable stuff.

It is not an easy task. The cane is cut and brought to the grinder and wheel where it is fed into the grinder. 
The old mule turns the wheel round and round, round and round squeezing the juice from the cane .The juice is strained and in turn placed in a large kettle, ours was copper and then cooked with constant stirring with a large paddle.  
The "green froth" is skimmed off and the juice continues to cook. Eventually it looks brown in color. It is strained into fruit jars through either cheese cloth or course flour sacks, depending on what you had on hand. 
The longer they sit, the stronger the molasses get, at least that has been my experience in recent years. They will sugar up on you after they are opened if not resealed real tight.

Ok now the molasses are made so lets make ginger cookies or as we called em molassee cookies.
**This is not one of the instant cookie recipes but a made from scratch cookie. The recipe is fairly old. How old, I have no clue but my grandmother (Mammy) and my Mom used it for years and I  have followed suit

Mix throughly:

1/3 cup soft shortening
1 cup of brown sugar (packed)
1 1/2 cups of dark molasses

Stir in:

2/3 cup of cold water

Sift together and stir in:

6 cups of flour (sifted)
2tsp soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp all spice
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp cinnamon

Chill the dough. Roll out very thick (1/2").
Cut with a 2 1/2 inch round cutter (if you don't have a cutter a glass of similar size will do)
Place far apart on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake until, when touched lightly with a finger, no imprint remains. If you over cook them they will be tough and flat instead of fluffy and light.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes (again check by the touch test to determine how long they need to bake as ovens differ.

This will make about 2 1/2 dozen of fat , puffy 2 1/2 cookies

To make gingerbread men use the same recipe as above except mix in one additional cup of flour(sifted), cut with a gingerbread man cut out. Use raisins for eyes, nose mouth, shoes and cuff buttons. You can use candied cherries, gumdrops or even the red cinnamon drop candies for coat buttons.  Use a easy make icing to frost the coat, sleeves and such. 

For those who need to cut out or cut back on sugar here is an additional recipe called Cookie Jar Molasses Cookies. These are crisp and thin but have ZERO sugar. Great with a cup of your favorite tea or cocoa.

Heat to boiling point and then remove from heat:

1 cup of molasses

Stir in:

1/2 cup shortening
1 tsp soda
2 1/4 cups of sifted flour
1 3/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ginger

Chill dough. Roll out real thin (1/16") and cut into desired shapes.
Place on lightly greased baking sheet. Bake until set.
Don't over bake or they will be bitter
Bake at 350 degrees for 5 to 7 minutes (preheated oven)
This will make about 6 dozen 2 1/2 inch cookies.



Anonymous said...

My wife's German Grandmother taught her how to make these.


Fred G.

Ticker said...

Fred, we use to make these but without the anise flavor since no one really cared much for the flavor. I like it but our cookies were basically just butter or sugar flavor cookies, Almond flavor was added at times and I think I remember those more vividly than any of the others.

sue hanes said...

Fred G. - Every year at the church making Springerles was a big thing.

The ladies would use those rolling pins with pictures in them - make a lot of Springerles and store them in different freezers at our houses to sell at the Christmas bazaar.

But they learned the hard way never to store them in the freezer of this one associate pastor.


Springerles are so good that you can never stop at eating just one.