Baking with Molasses

There’s one thing that I quite often mention when bringing up food: that I am not very good at sticking to a recipe. I tend to add to, subtract from, and change amounts of almost 99.999999999999….% of the time. My quick reading and doing got me into trouble this time. (Recipes will come after the science. You know the drill!)

Money is very tight right now, due to almost no work all winter, so I have no honey and no maple syrup and no money to buy them with. We don’t use sugar anymore (we’re doing SO great with that!); it’s not an option. However, molasses is extremely cheap when you compare the usage and price of molasses to the usage and price of honey or maple syrup. I can buy a gallon of honey for $50-$90 locally, a gallon of maple syrup for $50, and a gallon of molasses for $8.76. When baking, if the recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar, I use 1/2 cup of honey or 2/3 cup of maple syrup (if!). When substituting molasses, I can use 1/3-1/2 cup molasses for every 1 cup of sugar. Oh yeah, I’m saving money!

Molasses has other benefits, too. According to Natural Health eZine,

By adding two teaspoons of blackstrap molasses to the food and drink you consume, you’ll be getting 10% or more of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of iron, calcium, manganese, magnesium, copper, potassium and several other essential nutrients and minerals. Blackstrap molasses is also a great source of selenium and Vitamin B6.

In fact, I give my goats molasses in water or with their grain when they are anemic and after they give birth because of the high levels of iron and potassium.  But, wait: where does molasses come from? Sugar. Yes, molasses is a “by-product” of taking dark, raw sugar and changing it to the white sugar that everyone wants. And yet it’s healthy? Yes, molasses is good. Sugar is bad.

Is molasses processed? Yes, molasses is processed. It is not a complete whole food. Like everything else, molasses should be consumed in moderate quantities. If you’re choosing a sweetener, artificial sweeteners and sugar are among the worst; honey, molasses, and maple syrup are among the best.

Enough of the research and back to my kitchen “ooooops!” Monday night, I wanted a sweet treat. I scoured the net for recipes using molasses, since that’s what I have. Finally, I found the one: Brown Butter, Molasses, and Cider Shortbread Cookies by Amy, of A Stool at the Counter. I read the recipe.

1/2 cup butter

2 cups all purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup molasses

1/2 cup apple cider

1 teaspoon vanilla

It looked yummy! I ran to the kitchen and furiously mixed. (The kids were in the tub; had to work fast if I wanted quiet time!) As I was mixing, I just couldn’t figure out what someone would put cider vinegar in cookies. But, the recipe said to (not!), so I was going to do it and trust it turned out. After all, I’ve used vinegar in cooking before, and it does sometimes turn out sweet. So I happily worked away, and pressed the yummy (but acidic) smelling dough out into a cookie sheet (I decided to make a bar cookie. Saves time!). I placed it in the oven, and started on the glaze.

1/2 cup plus 3 teaspoons apple cider, divided

1 cup powdered sugar

No sugar in this household, so I decided to substitute with honey. I poured the vinegar into the pan and set it to boil. It boiled, and boiled, and boiled… until it was reduced by half. It stilled smelled vinegary to me, but who am I to argue with a recipe?! The cookies came out, they cooled. The glaze went on; we tasted. Blech! Nasty, nasty, nasty apple cider vinegar taste. I took Danny to the computer. I pointed, I explained, I ranted. (I really wanted cookies!) Finally, he brings up the fact that he was wondering why I was using a recipe that needed cider when we had none. “But we have apple cider vin……e…..gar….” I started. Then it clicked. Big oops. I used apple cider vinegar, not apple cider. Which was what the recipe called for. Palm to forehead, right?

To Amy- forgive me for so totally messing up your recipe. I’m going to make it again one day, and this time, I promise to follow your recipe completely and totally (Well, I have to use honey instead of sugar. Is that okay? See, I made this New Year’s Resolution…). I’m positive that your cookies are delicious. And I’m sorry that this silly recipe-changer messed up your recipe so badly!

To make up for my hideous mistake, I made Danny an old-fashioned molasses cake yesterday. I followed the recipe. 🙂 I didn’t even substitute whole wheat flour this time. I followed the recipe to the letter. And you know what? When you follow a recipe, and don’t use apple cider vinegar, molasses desserts are oh-so-good.

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