pomegranate molasses & spice cookies
The weather, so promising in October, has faded to a dull damp grey that threatens to overthrow my long-anticipated plans for a Summer spent burning on the beach before flinging myself into cool blue water.
It was especially ominous the day I iced these cookies.
They’d been made two days prior on a glowing Summer-ish day in an attempt to avoid tasks-that-must-be-done-in-order-for-me-to-maintain-my-sanity. By the time they were baked, I had not even half an hour to get ready for a party that evening and, resigned to maintain said sanity, ended up arriving some two and a half hours late, sans cookies. (No matter, for there was beer and clear skies and cuddles and yelling and sausages all round).
But this day was overcast. The sky groaned under the weight of the clouds. I groaned under the weight of presents, somewhat-thoughtfully shipped to my office so as to avoid the queues at the post office. I hurried home, jacket flung over my box of gifts, hand held uselessly over my face in an attempt to shield myself from the heavy drops.
I cursed under my breath as I skipped off the footpath into the long, damp grass in order to avoid a man who had suddenly stopped in front of me, putting his bags and parcels onto the ground around him in order to hunt through each for an umbrella.
The cookies themselves are an almost embarrassingly loose adaptation of some far snappier specimens I spotted on smitten kitchen some weeks ago. So embarrassingly loose, even, that they barely resemble the original. These are, instead, cakey and moist and tangy and so intensely spiced that they almost verge on being too flavoursome.
The filling helps somewhat with this.
The sky came thundering down as I whipped together a batch of buttercream to sit between the cookies and, almost without thinking, I reached for a little bottle of whisky that I keep nestled in between far larger bottles of its clearer cousins.
Eaten together, they taste almost like a hot toddy (whiskey, ginger, cinnamon and pepper) before the earthy grit of dark sugar cane molasses hits and the sharp tang of pomegranate molasses smacks you squarely in the jaw.
I handed some around my office today – a treat to add some cheer to the greyness of today – and somehow, by lunchtime, the clouds had lifted and the light came streaming through the windows. Fingers crossed it stays this way til May.
- 2¼ C plain flour
- 2 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp table salt
- 1 tbsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
- ¼ tsp ground black pepper
- 225g unsalted butter
- ½ C castersugar
- ½ C light brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- ¼C pomegranate molasses
- 1 tbsp molasses
- ¼C thickened cream
- 3tsp flour
- 100g unsalted butter
- ¼C caster cugar
- ½C icing sugar
- 3tsp whiskey
- Whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, pepper & spices in a bowl to evenly distribute the spices.
- Beat the butter and two sugars in a separate bowl until light and fluffy. Add the egg and molasses (molasses-es?) and beat until it all comes together in a sticky mess.
- Add the flour mixture and continue to beat until it comes together nicely. You'll have a fairly doughy looking mix, the kind you can pinch between your fingers. And whilst you might just get away with forming the cookies then and there, it'll be better after a chill in the freezer. Trust me.
- So plonk the lot onto a piece of cling film and massage it out into a log about 1 inch thick. It will be long so cut it in half and put the two logs next to each other. This will make the next step far easier. Wrap the logs up and pop them in the freezer for about half an hour.
- Cut the logs at one inch intervals, you should now have cylinders that are an inch high and an inch in diameter. Now roll the dough into lovely little spherical balls. If you can. Mine were slightly squashed. Like the earth.
- These will spread in the oven a bit so space them out on lined or greased baking sheets - say one and a half inches between each. Bake in a 180C oven for 12ish minutes. When they're done, they'll be golden on the tops, almost cakey in the middle and will slide off the baking sheet with close to no difficulty once cooled for a minute or two.
- Leave the cookies to cool completely on a wire rack before sandwiching with whiskey buttercream. (I also think they'd be amazing dipped in dark chocolate and coated in crushed nuts, but will leave that combination for you to test on your own as I ran out of chocolate... oops.)
- Whisk the thickened cream and flour together in a small saucepan until no large lumps are left. Heat the mixture slowly over a low heat, stirring continuously. The mixtue will thin as the cream "melts" and then start to thicken again. Keep stirring over heat until you end up with a paste the consistency of creamy mashed potatoes. Leave aside to cool.
- Beat the butter and caster sugar until they are light and fluffy and pale.
- Add the cream and flour paste, the whiskey and the icing sugar and beat again - this time for quite a while, at least five minutes. You'll know the buttercream is done when it looks white, fluffy and can hold a peak when flicked with your fingertip.