A little while ago I had a request for the molasses cookie recipe that we use here at the 1900 farm. I decided that I would pass along the recipe in honor of some of the most beloved and famous cookie sellers. First, a bit about molasses.
Molasses was popular much earlier than the turn of the century. The actual product consists of unrefined sugar. Molasses was imported from the Caribbean and was much more affordable than refined sugar. Syrup from the sorghum plant could also be pressed to make sorghum molasses, a different product. I mentioned that molasses came from the Caribbean, and in fact, so much molasses was being traded that England enacted a tariff in the Molasses Act of 1733.
While researching molasses, I came across an interesting and devastating event involving the dark sugar. History.com reported that on January 15th, 1919, Boston was taken over in the Great Molasses Flood. Two and a half million gallons of molasses broke free from storage bins and flooded the streets, creating an 8 foot high wave of sticky goo. Though it seems more like something that would happen in a cartoon, this event was tragic; 21 people were killed.
I certainly wouldn’t wish death by molasses on anyone, but some of our staff and volunteers have agreed that these molasses cookies are to die for:
Crinkly Molasses Cookies
3/4 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
4 Tablespoons molasses
2 teaspoons soda (baking soda)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon ginger
1.2 teaspoon cloves
Cream butter, add sugar, egg, and molasses. Sift dry ingredients together and add butter mixture. Drop onto greased cookie sheet and sprinkle with sugar. Bake.
(note: I don’t have the origins of this recipe. It is taken from a hand-written book we have at the 1900 farm. Other recipes for molasses cookies are written in the book with origins in such periodicals as the Pride of the Kitchen (1898) and The Western Farmer’s Institute (1894). The reason I chose this particular recipe is because it is everyone’s favorite. Enjoy!)
There are a myriad of different recipes that use molasses in 1900 era cookbooks. Molasses Cake seems to be popular, and I even came across molasses pudding. Molasses is also used as a basis for sauces. Still, molasses cookies are by far the best way to enjoy the gooey sweet syrup.
As I said, I thought I would use the cookie recipe to salute some of the most famous cookie saleswomen. Happy 100th birthday to the Girl Scouts of the USA! What started in Savannah, GA, in 1912 as a meeting of 18 girls, now boasts a membership of 3.2 million annually. To read more about the history of Girl Scouts and more about the organization that reaches far beyond cookies, visit their website.
As a salute to the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts who annually attend our programs, Living History Farms will be offering free admission to members of those organizations on Sunday, May 20 for Scout Appreciation Day. Come out with your troop and see the farms!