Well, folks it looks like we are down to the home stretch for the year. I have spent the weekend baking cookies and printing holiday cards, both of which are annual rituals for me this time of the year. I love to find a couple of new cookie recipes to join the mix that I have, which pass my idiot proof simple baking muster. With some trial and error, these spiced molasses cookies work and are extremely easy to work with. I am also a huge fan of working with simple natural sweeteners, think maple syrup or dark muscavado sugar and of course my all time favorite molasses. I am very partial to the black strap variety which along with its rich depth of flavor is guaranteed to provide you with an abundance of minerals most notably iron and calcium. I realize cookies are all about indulgence but if we can up the ante and get a nutrition boost why complain.
Add garam masala to the mix, which I have done with some hesitation and reserve work well, in this case I have balanced the garam masala with an additional dose of fennel rounding off the flavors beautifully. Garam masala has become quite the magic spice, being used in all things sweet and savory. When done right and handled well, it is indeed a well balanced spice and with all its nuances of fragrant and gentle spice notes it certainly is perfect for winter baking. I am still waiting to try it in a sweet potato or pumpkin pie, maybe I will save that for next weekend as a sweet peace offering for the brother. Well, it was good enough for the first presidential dinner hosted by a young and optimistic president. I would like to alert people, just because I am finicky, there are many variations of garam masala and like all things Indian, we tend to oversimplify the cuisine by calling things staples, because let’s face it there is nothing called garam masala in the South Indian culinary lexicon and the Bengali garam masala blend is different from the more popular North Indian variety. This being said, there is generally a good dose of cinnamon, cardamon and cloves in most of these spice blends make them a lovely option for notching up your holiday baking just a little!
It is an immensely nuanced and effective spice, when done and used right. Please do try to avoid using a pre-made mixture, here is a video that I have attached that will help you mix and make your own Garam Masala. If you must buy a pre-ground mixture, try to find a local purveyor who will most likely have spices that are fresher than the commercial varieties.
Now back to the cookie, it really is all about the nuance of spices and good quality molasses. My version of these cookies is made with whole wheat pastry flour and relatively low in sugar, if you like it sweeter you might want to notch up the sugar content.
A chewy well seasoned cookie brimming with the rustic goodness of molasses and whole wheat flour.
- 2 cups of whole wheat pastry flour
- 11/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon ground fennel
- 1 teaspoon Garam Masala powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup butter well softened, plus extra for greasing
- ¼ cup blackstrap molasses
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1 egg
- Sift together the flour and baking soda. Stir in the ground fennel, garam masala powder and the salt.
- Grease the cookie sheet and heat the oven to 350 degrees.
- In a mixing bowl beat the butter, molasses, sugar until light and fluffy.
- Gradually add in the egg and the flour mixture in small amounts mixing well until thoroughly incorporated.
- Shape the mixture into small walnut shaped balls, flatten and place about 2 inches apart.
- Place in the oven for about 12 minutes. Cool, remove from the sheet and enjoy just slightly warm.