Molasses Drop Cookies

cookies, dessert, molasses, ginger, cinnamon, cookie, soft, chewy, newfoundlandI remember these cookies fondly.  My mother made them often and I used to grab two or three of them with a tall glass of cold milk.  These molasses drop cookies are soft, chewy, and full of molasses flavour.  The cinnamon and ginger help round out the slight bitterness that molasses can bring.  I guarantee this will be one of your favourites.

These cookies also go by the name of Lassy cookies.  Lassy is obviously a shortened form of molasses and has worked its way into the Newfoundland vernacular.  There are lassy buns, lassy candy, and lassy bread.  There is another cookie called the lassy mog.  It starts off like the molassses drop cookie, but you add raisins and nuts to the batter.  Of course, molasses is great by itself on some bread or toutons, but it’s even better in the form of a cookie.

You start by creaming together the shortening and the brown sugar.  Once that is creamed add the egg.  Whip this batter for two minutes.  Don’t cheat and make sure you whip the batter for the proper amount of time.  This incorporates air into the batter and will make your cookie light and fluffy.   Take the time to preheat your oven to 350F.

While that is being mixed combine the sour milk and molasses.  Milk can be soured by add a tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice to fresh milk and let it sit for five minutes or so.  When you mix the molasses into the milk you will see curdled pieces of milk floating about.  This is perfectly fine.  The soured milk help balance out the flavours of the cookie.

In another large bowl combine your flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves.  Use a wire whisk to evenly mix the dry ingredients.

Now, with your mixer on low add about 1/3 of the flour mixture to the creamed mixture.  Then add about 1/2 of the milk/molasses to the batter.  Add the next third of flour, then the rest of the wet ingredients.  Finally add the last of the flour mixture.  You always want to end mixing with the dry ingredients.   This way you can judge if the batter is too loose or stiff.  Also you won’t run the risk of over mixing your batter.  Mix until clear.  That is, until you don’t see any white of the flour in the batter.

Line your cookie sheet with parchment or Silpat.  You can just use cooking spray on your cookie sheet, but if you read this blog regularly you’ll realize I like using a Silpat.  It makes cleaning so much easier and the cookies don’t stick at all.  Invest in some Silpat liners.  You’ll thank me later.

cookies, dessert, molasses, ginger, cinnamon, cookie, soft, chewy, newfoundland

Scoop the batter with a #30 scoop onto the liners, leaving space for the cookies to spread slightly.  Bake for 12-15 minutes in the middle of the oven.  Because you can only do one pan at a time, I scooped my cookies and left them in a cool place so they wouldn’t deflate while the others were baking.  The coolest place was my garage, so I set the pans out there.  The cookies will look slightly underdone when you take them out, but rest asured, they will continue to bake when they cool on the pans.

Let them cool on the pans for a few minutes before you place them on a cooling rack to cool completely.

cookies, dessert, molasses, ginger, cinnamon, cookie, soft, chewy, newfoundland
Molasses Drop cookies

Molasses Drop Cookies

Amazing chewy Molasses Drop cookies.
Course Dessert
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 3 dozen

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar lightly packed
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup fancy molasses
  • 3/4 cup milk soured
  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cloves

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Cream together the shortening and brown sugar. Add one large egg. Beat for two minutes on medium speed. Mixture should be light and fluffy.
  2. In a small bowl combine soured milk and molasses. To sour milk add one tbsp of lemon juice or vinegar to fresh milk. Set aside for a few minutes.
  3. Combine the flour, baking soda and powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves in a large bowl. Stir with wire whisk to distribute ingredients evenly throughout.
  4. Add 1/3 of the dry mix to the creamed mixture while the mixer is on low. Add 1/2 of the milk/molasses mix. Add the next third of dry ingredients, then the rest of the wet. Finally add the last of the dry and mix until clear. No white flour should be showing in the batter.
  5. Drop with #30 scoop onto lined cookie sheets. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Let cool on pan for a few minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Screech Pecan Tart

tart, pecan, nuts, screech, rum, pastry, crust, newfoundland

This is the week that most of us will be courting our sweetheart with flowers, chocolate, or a lavish dinner.  If you haven’t remembered that holiday here’s a quick easy tart to help you get back in the good books.  This tart contains a little bit of Newfoundland dark rum for flavour.

Newfoundlanders have been drinking rum as long as they have been trading with the British.  They traded with Jamaica and other islands for sugar, molasses, and rum.  I did a post about the history of molasses and the sugar trade, and you can read about it here.

Long before any Canadian liquor board was created, the Jamaican rum that was eventually to be known as Screech was a mainstay of the traditional Newfoundland diet.  At this time, salt fish was being shipped to the West Indies in exchange for rum. This resulted in fish becoming the national dish for Jamaicans and rum becoming the traditional drink for Newfoundlanders.

Not being overly concerned with alcohol content, the early fishermen tended to drink the rum at incredibly high strength with no attempt made to temper the taste.  When the government took control of the alcohol trade in the early 20th century they put the rum in a sophisticated, unlabeled bottle and fortunately did not alter the rum itself.

This delightful product may have continued indefinitely as a nameless rum except for the influx of American servicemen to Newfoundland during World War II. As the story goes, a visiting American WWII serviceman downed the rum in one quick toss. His howls of distress caused a bystander to rush to his aid, roaring “What the cripes was that ungodly screech?” The taciturn Newf simply replied, “The screech?” ‘Tis the rum, me son.” As word of the incident spread more soldiers began trying this mysterious rum, adopting it as their favorite. Thus a legend was born.

This dessert contains a little bit of the drink, but not enough to make you howl in distress.  It’s quick to make, and looks grand on the plate; like you spent hours.

You’ll first need a pre-made frozen pie pastry from the store.  Get the kind which is rolled into a tube, instead of the one that comes with a foil pan.  You won’t need the pan and the rolled pastry is easier to manipulate.  Place the thawed pastry into a 9″ tart pan.  Get the pan which has a removable bottom.  It will make removing the tart so much easier after it’s baked.  Press the pastry to the sides of the greased pan and trim off any excess over the edge of the pan.  Place the pan on a lined cookie sheet and set that aside.

Preheat your oven to 350F.  In a large bowl whip your eggs, brown sugar, and melted butter.  The sugar shouldn’t have any lumps.  If they do, crush them down with your whisk.  Add the clear syrup and rum.  Whisk until combined.   Pour the mixture into the tart pan.  Place the pecan halves into the slurry in any design you like.  You can leave a little space between the nuts so you can see the batter in between. Carefully carry your tart pan to the oven and bake for 45-60 minutes.  Check the tart after 45 minutes to see if the pecans are getting too brown.  If so, cover with foil and continue baking.

Remove tart from the oven.  The filling should be a bit wobbly but it will set once it cools.  While still warm sprinkle the tart with a couple more tablespoons of Screech.  Let cool on a wire rack before removing it from the pan.  Serve with a nice whipped cream or your favourite ice cream.

pecan tart with screech dark rum

Pecan Tart with Screech Dark Rum

This pecan tart fortified with Newfoundland Screech Dark Rum will get you hot under the collar in more ways than one!
Course Dessert
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 frozen pastry shell big enough for a 9" pie
  • 2 eggs large
  • 2/3 cups brown sugar
  • 4 tbsp butter melted
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup This is the clear kind
  • 1 tsp Screech Dark rum plus extra for sprinkling after
  • 1/3 pound pecan halves you may need more if they are broken

Instructions

  1. Take pastry out of the freezer to thaw about 30 minutes before you make the dessert. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Press the thawed pastry into a greased 9" tart pan. This pan should have removable bottom. Press the pastry up the sides of the pan evenly and remove any excess. Place the tart pan on a lined cookie sheet. This will make transferring it to the oven easier and catch any spills.
  3. In a large bowl whip the eggs, brown sugar, and melted butter. Add the corn syrup and rum. Transfer the mixture to the tart pan. Add the pecans in a nice pattern in the filling. Place in the middle rack in the oven and bake for 45-60 minutes. Check after 45 minutes and cover the tart with foil if the pecans are too dark.
  4. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with 2 tbsp. of rum and then let cool. Carefully remove the tart from the pan and serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

Recipe Notes

You may use any dark or spiced rum if you don't have Screech.  I was not endorsed or compensated by the makers of Screech for this post.

Please Pudding – Sunday Dinner Origins

 

pudding, dessert, newfoundlandNewfoundland has taken many things from its mother countries Ireland and England.  We have the rich language and culture, the amazing music, and the scrumptious food.  (At least, we think so.) For many years generations of people sat down to Sunday dinner composed of boiled vegetables, salt beef or pork, and steamed pudding.  The meal usually consisted of putting all your vegetables into one large stock pot with the salt beef and letting it simmer on the stove until all was tender.  The salt from the beef would flavour the meal and you could take the liquid left over, commonly called the “liquor,” and make gravy, soup, and the like.  Dessert, called a pudding,  is cooked in the same pot with the vegetables in a cheesecloth bag.

The common name for this meal is called Jiggs dinner, or boiled dinner, and is thought to be named after the main character Jiggs from the comic Bringing up Father which ran from 1913 to 2000¹.  Boiled salt beef and cabbage was his favourite meal.  Jiggs dinner usually consists of salt beef, cabbage, potatoes, carrots, and turnip.  Putting the beef in a brine solution meant that it would keep a lot longer than fresh and could travel easily.  Root vegetables kept for longer periods, especially in root cellars, which many Newfoundlanders had.  This meant that a family could have a hearty and fairly nutritious meal, even in the middle of winter when food could be scarce.  The leftovers were even used the next day, mashed together and fried as a hash.

dinner, salt beef, cabbage, carrots, potatoes, Jiggs, newfoundland
Traditional Newfoundland Jiggs Dinner

What accompanied this dinner was a boiled pudding.  Usually a collection of fruit and nuts loosely held together with flour and some sort of fat.  More often than not, the fat of choice was lard or suet.  It was readily available and less expensive than butter.  Nowadays we have our choice of fats at a relatively low cost for all.  One of the few times we indulge in a steamed pudding is during the holidays.  Hearkening back to the 16th century, figgy pudding, made famous with the Christmas song We Wish You a Merry Christmas, is now made with raisins instead of figs, although you can still get some made more traditionally.

I made a Christmas steamed pudding last year and it called for suet.  I didn’t have any on hand (who does, really?) so I just threw some shortening in the freezer and grated it into the pudding before I cooked it.   Christmas seems to be the one of the few times we indulge ourselves with labour and time intensive meals and I think that we are richer for it.

There are two possible puddings that can be made to accompany Jiggs dinner: pease pudding and figgy duff.  Instead of using figs in your figgy pudding, figgy duff is made with raisins.  Figgy, or figgie, is an old Cornish word for raisin and the name probably came from the settlers of that area who now lived in Newfoundland.  Made from a collection of flour, bread crumbs, raisins, molasses, spices, and fat.  They are placed in a puddling bag, wrapped in cheesecloth and then boiled along with the vegetables.  Now, though, you can get pudding tins which clamp closed and don’t absorb the flavours of the liquor.

The other pudding is pease pudding.  Pease pudding, or pease porridge, is not what we would now think of as pudding.  This is a savoury dish, more like today’s hummus.  You may remember the nursery rhyme Pease Pudding Hot

Pease porridge hot, pease porridge cold,

Pease porridge in the pot, nine days old;

Some like it hot, some like it cold,

Some like it in the pot, nine days old.

Yellow split peas are cooked with water, salt, and spices, usually with the salt meat, until they are mush.  This dish originates from the North East of England and is still served today.  It’s a classic ingredient in the saveloy dip which is found in many stores in the North East.

So before you hang up your apron, surprise your family and friends with a steamed pudding.  It comes together quickly and then gently steams on top of your stove for a couple of hours.  While it not be as fancy looking as today’s showstopping desserts, I think the simplicity of the pudding speaks for itself.  Of course you’ll have to serve a nice sauce with it, but that’s for another day.

If you want to try making your own steamed pudding.  Please try my steamed carrot raisin pudding.  It comes together quickly and is great with a nice custard or butterscotch sauce.

Footnote: 1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jiggs_dinner

Steamed Carrot Raisin Pudding

dessert, carrot, raisin, pudding, sauce,
Carrot Raisin Pudding with Brown Sugar Sauce

Steamed puddings have been around for centuries.  Early puddings used to be cooked in animal intestines — as haggis still is. This wasn’t overly convenient. The intestines were only available when an animal was slaughtered, and required a good deal of work to clean them before they could be used.

Cloths for boiling puddings weren’t thought up until the early 1600s. Pudding cloths were lined with suet and flour, the mixture was poured into this, the cloth was tied up and then boiled under water for hours. When it was boiled in a cloth, it came out sphere shaped. With the advent of the cloth technique, Steamed Pudding making in England started to take off.  In Newfoundland, a steamed pudding, such as Figgy Duff, usually comes as part of Jiggs dinner.  Jiggs dinner is a boiled dinner done on Sundays with salt beef, cabbage, potatoes, carrots, and turnips.  All are boiled together in a large pot, as well as the dessert in a pudding bag.

Steamed dessert puddings that rose (such as Christmas or Plum pudding, or Sponge puddings), would not have been possible before the invention of baking powder (in America, in the mid-nineteenth century.)

While it may seem like a lot of work, steamed puddings are relatively easy to prepare and cook.  You just need something to cook the pudding in, usually a large pot and something to hold the pudding.  You can use a pudding bag, an old (clean) coffee tin, or a pudding mould.  Pudding bags and molds can be found at home and decor stores, or you could click on the ad at the bottom of my post.  (Subtle as a lead pipe, I am.)

This steamed carrot pudding is a great way to hide a little more veg into your meals.  It’s a sweet pudding, and should be served with a sauce.  The easiest way is just to buy the caramel, chocolate, or custard sauces available at the supermarket.  I will tell you how to make a homemade sauce, so stay tuned for that.

For your pudding, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and allspice in a large bowl.  Add the raisins and currants and toss them with the flour mixture.  Make sure they are coated with flour.  It will evenly distribute the fruit throughout the dessert.

In another bowl with your hand mixer on medium, cream the butter and brown sugar until smooth.  Add the beaten egg to the creamed sugar.  With your mixer on low, slowly add the flour mixture until the batter becomes too stiff to mix.  Fold in the remaining flour/fruit.

Stir in the grated carrot, potato, and bread crumbs.  The batter will be thick.  Stecarrot, dessert, raisin, pudding, sauceamed puddings typically don’t have much flour because you don’t want the dessert to be too gummy.  Place the batter into a greased pudding mould.  If you do not have a mould, then use steam-proof container and cover with aluminum foil.  Secure the foil with an elastic so no water can get in or out.  Place the mould into a large pot and pour water so it reaches at least half way up the sides.  Bring the water to a boil and turn down the heat to simmer.  Steam the pudding for 2 1/2 hours, then uncover and place in a preheated 350F oven for 10 minutes.  This will just firm up the crust.

Serve with your favorite sauce.

Steamed Carrot Raisin Pudding

Small steamed puddings make a great hostess gift.
Course Dessert
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 20 minutes
Servings 4 servings

Ingredients

Flour mixture

  • 3/4 cup All purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 3/4 cup currants

Cream mixture

  • 1/3 cup butter unsalted
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar light
  • 1 large egg beaten
  • 3/4 cup carrot, grated
  • 3/4 cup potato, grated peeled
  • 3/4 cup bread crumbs about one slice

Instructions

  1. For the flour mixture combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and allspice in a large bowl. Add the raisins and currants. Toss to coat. Set aside.
  2. Cream together butter and brown sugar with you mixer on medium speed. Add the beaten egg. Stir in the grated carrot, grated potato, and bread crumbs.
  3. Slowly add flour mixture to the creamed mixture. Mixing by hand if the batter becomes too thick for the electric mixer.
  4. Pour the batter into a greased pudding mould and lightly press the batter down to make a flat layer. Cover and place in a large pot. Fill the pot with water so the water comes at least halfway up the sides of the mould. The mould should not touch the bottom of the pan, so you may have to use a small can or trivet. Bring the water to a boil and reduce the heat to simmer. Steam for 2 1/2 hours.
  5. Keep an eye on the water level, just in case the water level gets too low. Just add a little more hot water if necessary. Once steamed remove the lid and place in a preheated 350F oven for 10 minutes.
  6. Serve with your favourite sauce.

Recipe Notes

If you prefer individual puddings, divide the pudding batter among greased custard cups or ramekins, filling about 3/4 full.  Cover with aluminum foil and steam for about an hour.  Serve warm with sauce.

Scrunchies

scrunchie, cookies, coconut, chocolate, chocolate chip, peanut, chewy, oatsNo, this isn’t a post about the elasticty donut a lot of women sported in their hair in the eighties.  It’s about a drop cookie and this drop cookie is chock-a-block full of different ingredients from all over my pantry.  There’s creamy coconut, chocolate chips, and crunchy peanuts.  It almost sounds like I’m writing an ad for a chocolate bar, but this is a cookie.

Ever have one of those days where you look in the pantry and don’t really know what to make?  Sometimes it happens to me too often.  I’m missing a key ingredient and I really don’t want to make a trip to the store for one thing, because it won’t be just one thing I’ll pick up.  So I started searching through my recipes.  And because it’s February already (where did the time go?) this cookie has a touch of maple syrup for flavour.  It’s basically a dump cookie.  You take a whole bunch of different ingredients and blend them all into one cookie.  We’re famous for taking ingredients from the people who visited us from different parts of the world.  Check out my post about molasses to see just that.cookies, scrunchies, peanut, coconut, oats, chocolate, chocolate chip

Also, if you’re wary about having a cookie with peanuts because of allergies, please feel free to leave them out.  Just replace the amount with more chocolate chips, or tree nuts if you’re not allergic to them.  I would suggest something on the crunchy side though.  It’s a great added texture.

Mix the following together in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or with a hand mixer: oil, brown sugar, egg, milk, and maple syrup.  Either will work fine for this recipe as the batter doesn’t get too stiff.  Now add the oats, coconut, chocolate chips and peanuts.  Then sit back and chill.

Really.  The mixture needs to chill in the fridge for at least ten minutes.  This way the oats will slightly absorb some of the oil and the cookies won’t spread as much.  That’s my tip for the day.  If you don’t want your cookies to spread, chill the batter first.  Of course, you can also put the batter in muffin tins, like I did for my chocolate chip cookies, but it isn’t necessary.

Preheat your oven to 375F.  While the mixture is chilling, you can mix the dry ingredients.  Mix in a bowl the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Take the chilled batter out and slowly add the flour mixture until you can’t see any more flour in the batter.  Using a #30 scoop transfer the batter to a parchment or Silpat lined cookie sheet.  Bake for 8-10 minutes.  I did mine for 9, but you know your oven best.  When you take the cookie out of the oven it won’t look completely cooked.  This is okay.  It will still continue to cook while it sits on the pan to cool.  Let to cookies cool on the pan for at least ten minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Scrunchies

This wonderful cookies is packed with great ingredients from your pantry.
Course Dessert
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 4 dozen

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cup light brown sugar lightly packed
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp milk any fat content will do (whole, 2%, 1%, skim)
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 cup quick oats
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 3/4 cups All purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped peanuts salted

Instructions

  1. In stand mixer with paddle attachment or hand mixer on low speed, combine the vegetable oil, brown sugar, egg, milk, and maple syrup. Add the coconut, oats, chocolate chips, and peanuts. Mix until blended. Chill in the refrigerator for at least ten minutes.
    scrunchie, cookies, coconut, chocolate, chocolate chip, peanut, chewy, oats
  2. In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Stir with wire whisk to combine. Remove chilled mixture from fridge and add the dry ingredients on low speed until you can't see any flour in the batter.
  3. Preheat your oven to 375F.
  4. With a #30 scoop, place even scoop on a parchment or Silpat lined cookie sheet, leaving about 2 inches between each cookie. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the edges are slightly brown. Let the cookies cool on the pan for at least 10 minutes.
    scrunchie, cookies, coconut, chocolate, chocolate chip, peanut, chewy, oats
  5. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Enjoy!
    scrunchie, cookies, coconut, chocolate, chocolate chip, peanut, chewy, oats

Recipe Notes

You may substitute another nut if you have a peanut allergy.  This will obviously alter the flavour of the cookies.  Or increase the chocolate chips to one cup and omit the nuts completely.