Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Molasses Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

For some this might be the season of pumpkin pie, but for me Fall is all about baking with molasses.

I love molasses for so many reasons. One is for the fact that it is the nickname my sister and I gave to my mom for moving so slowly all the time. Two is for the richness and complexity it lends to desserts. With its bitterness and simultaneous intense sweetness, it is the perfect ingredient to balance out desserts and adds a depth of flavour that comes across as almost creamy.

I just love this stuff!

What is molasses anyway?

Molasses is a thick liquid sugar syrup produced during the refining process of sugarcane juice to make crystal sugar. This sugarcane juice is boiled to concentrate it so much that it crystallizes into sugar.

Someone recently watched me bake with molasses and said that she finds it sits in their pantry for years because she buys it for one recipe but then never uses it again. I have 101 recipes that use molasses so if you are like her, give me a shout and I will help you solve that problem!

One of my favourite ways to use it is in cookies. Aside from the classic gingerbread, chewy crackly molasses cookies and sugar-coated ginger cookies, I sneak it into all sorts of drop cookies like these Chocolate Chip Oatmeal cookies.

Not only does it add great flavour, but it performs a desirable function: water absorption. Liquid sugars, like molasses, corn syrup, honey, maple, agave and rice syrups all fit under the classification of "humectants" which means that they attract and retain moisture from their environment. What does this mean for your cookies? It means they will stay soft and chewy for longer. When your cookies are baking, molasses will hold the moisture from the dough in so less of it evaporates out.

This particular recipe is good all around. Good in taste, good in satisfaction and good for you (as good as a cookie can get). In this 22-batch recipe I pack in rolled oats, whole wheat flour, chopped nuts, sunflower seeds, dried cranberries and cinnamon spice.

I also include 3/4 cup of dark chocolate chips because: priorities.

When baking with molasses, it is important to know there are different types.

Let's look at the difference between the types of molasses:

Fancy molasses - this is a light molasses produced from the first boiling of sugarcane and most of the sugar is still retained so that it tastes the sweetest of all the molasses varieties. It is the most runny of the three.

Cooking molasses - this is a darker molasses made from the second boiling and sugar extraction so it has a more viscous consistency and a slight bitter taste. I prefer to bake with this when making molasses cookies and gingerbread. Sometimes manufacturers make this type of molasses by blending Fancy and Blackstrap molasses to achieve a similar product.

Blackstrap molasses - this is the most viscous and darkest of all molasses types. It is produced after the third boiling and much of the sugar (sucrose) has been extracted. Blackstrap molasses has the most robust and bitter flavour. It is a good source of Vitamin B and minerals such as Iron, Magnesium and Potassium.

In today's recipe I use fancy molasses. You could also use cooking molasses but your cookies will be darker and have a much more pronounced molasses flavour. I would not recommend blackstrap for this recipe.

As of right now, these are my favourite cookies. I bake them every week and take them for breakfast then I have one again at around 4pm when it's close to dinner but I'm just too hungry to wait.

If you have a coffee or cuppa tea by you, then this will certainly complete your day.

Molasses Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
Makes about 20-22 cookies

½ cup (113g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup (110g) packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup (65g) granulated sugar
2 tbsp fancy molasses
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¾ cup (75g) rolled oats
1 cup (142g) all-purpose flour
¼ cup (35g) whole wheat flour

½ cup (70g) coarsely chopped nuts (I used roasted macadamias and almonds)
1/3 cup (45g) sunflower seeds
½ cup (60g) dried cranberries
¾ cup chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugar until smooth and a bit fluffy. Beat in molasses, then the egg and vanilla. Mix in baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.

Stir in oats then add both flours with nuts and seeds. Stir it in until combined and fold in cranberries and chocolate chips.

Use a 1.5-oz ice cream scoop to drop mounds of dough onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing them 3 inches apart. Flatten each cookie slightly using the bottom of a drinking glass or dry measuring cup and bake until golden brown around the edges, about 10-12 minutes. 
Let cookies cool on the pan for about 1 minute before transferring them individually to a wire rack to cool completely. These stay soft and chewy for days in an airtight container!
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