Pumpkin Molasses Pie

pumpkin-molasses-pieWhat makes pumpkin pie better? Molasses. But what is molasses, exactly?

Molasses is a syrup that results from sugar production. To make sugar, sugar cane or beets are crushed to extract their juice, which is then boiled down to form sugar crystals. The crystals are taken out, and the remaining juice is molasses, which may be boiled two or three more times to extract more crystals. The most common type of molasses used in baking comes from the first boiling; it is the lightest in color and sweetest in taste. The second boiling results in dark molasses, and the third results in blackstrap molasses, which is the thickest and most bitter-tasting. Blackstrap molasses is said to have health benefits because it contains vitamin B6 and minerals like calcium and magnesium, but it’s usually not recommended for baking. In fact, I’ve read many a recipe that calls for molasses and then indicates “not blackstrap” to ensure a sweet result.

Last week, I took some pumpkin molasses cookies to work and my colleague Linda told me that she had a good recipe for pumpkin molasses pie. Naturally, I had to try it…and it was just as delicious as I expected.

Ingredients

  • 1 single pie crust, unbaked
  • 1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup evaporated milk

Preparation

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line an 8-inch pie dish with crust, then trim and shape edge as you like. I did a classic crimped edge for this crust.

Place your pie dish on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper to catch any spills.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together pumpkin puree, light brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and molasses. Add eggs and evaporated milk, stirring very well to combine.

Pour filling into pie dish and place a crust shield* around the edge to prevent over-browning. Bake for 30 minutes, then remove the crust shield and continue baking another 10-15 minutes. Pie is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean; don’t worry about the little hole it will leave, as you can always cover this up with whipped cream before serving.

Remove pie from oven and cool completely before serving. Pie will be very puffy when it first comes out of the oven and will fall as it cools – this is completely fine.

Store pie in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.

*You can buy a crust shield at King Arthur Flour and many baking supply stores. If you don’t have one handy, take a 12-inch piece of foil and fold it into quarters. Take scissors and cut out the center, leaving a 2-inch wide ring. Carefully unfold the foil and place the guard on your pie edge. 

Pumpkin Molasses Cookies

pumpkin molasses cookiesMy kitchen smells so amazing right now that if the Yankee Candle folks could be here they’d create a candle based on it. I almost called these treats Pumpkin Dreams, because their original title didn’t quite seem to capture their aromatic deliciousness; I also considered calling them Septembers, because they’re an excellent combination of fall ingredients.

I will readily admit that I ate one the moment it was cool enough to consume without burning my mouth, and they are among my favorites, ever, which is really saying something.The perfect marriage of a pumpkin cookie and a gingersnap, they are spicy and sweet with a crunchy outer edge and soft, pillowy center.

The triple threat in these treats is the combination of pumpkin, molasses, and the spice blend of cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Each ingredient highlights the next, so you get layers of flavor; the spicy sweetness of the cinnamon and the pumpkin, the rich and slightly bitter molasses and cloves, and the light zing of the ginger. This cookie is an excellent example of how certain flavors can bring others out, in the best of senses. Next time, I may toss in a bit of nutmeg into the mix and see what happens.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin (not pie filling)
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sugar, for rolling

Preparation

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and salt; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until fluffy.

Add pumpkin, molasses, egg, and vanilla and beat until combined.

Add flour in two batches, mixing well.

Cover and chill dough for about 1 hour, until easier to handle.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line several baking sheets with parchment paper.

Using a 2-inch cookie scoop, scoop dough and roll into balls, then coat each ball very well in sugar and place about 2 inches apart on the baking sheets.

Bake for 13-15 minutes, until edges are set and centers are puffy. Remove from oven and cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

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Molasses Applesauce Raisin Drops

raisin molasses drops

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baked goods often employ interesting ingredients to yield certain textures, and this cookie calls upon applesauce to produce soft, chewy results. Mike requested these some time ago, and they involve many of his preferred ingredients, including raisins, molasses, and cinnamon.

Applesauce is usually used in baking to reduce the fat content in a recipe, but as this one contains a cup of butter, the purpose of applesauce here is more flavor- and texture-based. While cooking the applesauce, raisins, and lemon zest, keep a close eye on the mixture and don’t allow it to go above a simmer and stir it frequently to avoid burning. Be sure to use a very large mixing bowl, as this yields a large quantity of dough.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups sweetened applesauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 cups raisins
  • 3 3/4 cups flour
  • 2 3/4 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • generous 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons sugar, for shaping

Preparation

In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine applesauce, raisins, and lemon zest. Cook over medium heat until mixture is thickened and raisins are reconstituted, about 10 minutes. Stir frequently and take care not to let the mixture burn; remove from heat and pour into a large mixing bowl to cool just slightly.

Add butter, brown sugar, and molasses to raisin mixture and stir until butter melts.

Add egg, egg yolk, and vanilla and stir to combine.

Add flour and stir until evenly incorporated.

Cover with plastic wrap and chill at least two hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line several baking sheets with parchment paper.

Using a two-inch cookie scoop, scoop dough onto prepared sheets, spacing about two to three inches apart.

Grease the bottom of a large drinking glass and dip in sugar, then press to flatten cookies.

Bake for 15 minutes, until edges are slightly darker than centers.

Cool on cookie sheets for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Peanut Butter Molasses Cookies

 

 

 

 

 

Mary Janes were among my favorite penny candy, along with Bit O’ Honey and Tootsie Rolls.  The corner store in my neighborhood, which closed in my early teens, had shelves of penny candy and small paper bags that eager children could fill to their heart’s delight.

These cookies are modeled on the Mary Jane, featuring peanut butter, molasses, and dark brown sugar.  While you could certainly use light brown sugar, dark brown sugar has a higher quantity of molasses in it and will yield a richer flavor; you could also use crunchy, rather than smooth, peanut butter for another dimension of texture.

Ingredients

  • 2 2/3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cups dark brown sugar
  • 12 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 2/3 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup molasses (not blackstrap)
  • 2 eggs
  • About 1 cup unsalted peanuts, coarsely chopped

Preparation

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream together dark brown sugar, butter, shortening, peanut butter, and molasses until very well combined and fluffy, about two minutes.

Add eggs and beat well, about two minutes.

Add one-half of the flour mixture and beat until combined.

Add the remaining flour mixture and beat until combined.

Cover and chill dough at least one hour or until firm and easy to handle.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Line several baking sheets with foil and spray very lightly with cooking spray. (Note: I do not re-spray sheets after they have baked, as I find that there is enough residual spray left on the sheets so the cookies do not stick.)

Using a one-inch cookie scoop, scoop very generous portions of dough and roll into balls; dip one-half of each ball in chopped peanuts, pressing lightly to embed the nuts in the dough.

Place on the baking sheet about two inches apart and bake for 10 minutes.

Remove from oven; cool cookies on the baking sheet on a wire rack for two to three minutes, then remove cookies and cool completely on another rack.