Molasses makes any dish a sweet delight

By Olivia Fowler

Courier Staff

Molasses is an all-American ingredient and has been used for cooking since the early days of the colonies. It’s delicious poured over hot buttered biscuits or on pancakes, but there are a host of other dishes enhanced by the addition of this ingredient.

Not all of these recipes are quick, but much of the time involved isn’t labor-intensive. You can do other things while the pork chops marinate, and the slow cooker will take care of the beans while you go about your business. Yes, you do have to allow time for the bread to rise, but this bread recipe doesn’t require kneading. The bread does all the work. Only the molasses cookie recipe is mixed up and put into the oven right away. The cookies are somewhat addictive, so be careful.


Molasses Spice Cookies

2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour

2 tsp. of baking soda

1/2 tsp. of salt

1 tsp. ground ginger

1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. ground allspice

3/4 tsp. ground cloves

1 tsp. vanilla extract

3/4 c. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

1/2 c. dark brown sugar, packed

1/2 c. granulated sugar, plus 1/3 c. for rolling cookies

1 large egg

1/3 c. unsulphered molasses

Preheat oven to 375°F. Mix together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice together in a bowl and set aside.

Use an electric mixer and beat the butter for two minutes. Add the brown sugar, and 1/2 cup granulated sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about three minutes with mixer set at medium speed. Add egg, vanilla extract, and molasses. Beat until combined, about 30 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl with a rubber spatula.

Add dry ingredients and beat at low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds.

Place remaining 1/3 cup of granulated sugar in a shallow bowl. Working with two Tbsp of dough each time, roll dough into 1 3/4 inch balls. Roll balls in sugar and place on ungreased cookie sheets, spacing them 1 1/2 to two inches apart.

Bake until the outer edges of the cookies begin to set and centers are soft and puffy, about 11-13 minutes. Cool cookies on sheets for 2-3 minutes before transferring them to cooling racks.

Note: Do not overcook. The centers of the cookies should be somewhat soft and spongy when you take them out of the oven, otherwise they will end up hard and dry.

Slow-cooked Baked Beans

1 lb. (2 to 2 1/2 c.) dry white beans such as Navy beans or Great Northern beans (can also use kidney beans)

1/3 c. molasses

1/3 c. brown sugar

3-4 tbsp. Dijon mustard

1/8 tsp. ground cloves

3 c. hot water

1/2 lb. salt pork (can sub bacon), cut into 1/2-in. to 1-in. pieces

1 medium onion, (1 1/2 c.) chopped

Place beans in a large pot and cover with two inches of water. Soak overnight and drain. Alternatively, bring a pot with the beans covered with two inches of water to a boil, remove from heat and let soak for an hour, then drain.

Mix the molasses, brown sugar, mustard, and ground cloves with three cups of hot water.

Line the bottom of a slow-cooker (or a Dutch oven if you are cooking in the oven) with half of the salt pork (pick the fattiest pieces). Layer over with half of the drained beans. Add all of the onions in a layer, then top with another layer of beans and the remaining salt pork. Pour the molasses water mixture over the beans to just cover the beans.

Cover and cook in a slow-cooker on the low setting for eight hours (or in a 250°F oven), until the beans are tender. Check the water level a few hours in, and if the beans need more water, add some. Add additional salt to taste if needed. Note that fresher beans will cook faster than older beans. Your beans may be ready in less than eight hours, or they may take longer. Best the next day.

Anadama Bread]

1/2 c. cornmeal

2 c. water

1/2 c. molasses

3 tbsp. butter

1 tbsp. salt

1/2 c. warm water

1 package dry yeast

4 1/2 c. bread flour

Don’t try to knead this dough. Just spoon it into the pans and let it rise. It can take up to three hours so be patient.

Place the cornmeal in a large bowl. Boil the two cups of water and pour the hot water into the cornmeal, stirring constantly to prevent lumps. Let sit for 30 minutes.

Add the molasses, salt and butter and stir to combine. The cornmeal water should still be warm enough to melt the room temperature butter.

Put 1/2 cup of warm water (slightly warmer than body temperature) into a small bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over the water and let sit for a few minutes. Then stir it to gently combine. Let sit for another five minutes.

Add the yeast and the water to the bowl with the cornmeal and everything else, and mix to combine. Add the bread flour, a cup at a time, stirring after each addition. You will end up with something of a gloopy mess.

Butter a couple of 5×9 loaf pans. Spoon the dough mixture into the pans as best you can; it’ll be sticky. Cover with a tea towel and let rise for several hours, until it doubles in size.

Heat the oven to 350°F and bake the breads for 45-50 minutes, or until a skewer or knife blade comes out clean. Let the loaves cool for a few minutes, then turn them out onto racks to continue cooling.