Friday, August 03, 2012

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

My favorite part of the year is arriving.  No, I am not talking about the Christmas season, which is 5 months away, in case you are wondering.  I am referring to the next 6 glorious months (not counting August).  These are the best months of the year. These months are when there are mandated, prescheduled, paid holidays/days off from work!  Free-off days, as I call them.

These glorious free-off days are the best and over the next 6 months they are sprinkled out where I (and most other non-retail/medical/emergency… let’s just say other federal, state, and local government employees, including teachers) get at least one a month.  Wow, that sounded like I was rubbing it in.  I really am not rubbing it in; just trying to share my joy.

Think about it, the following holidays are on the horizon over the next 6 months:
·         September- Labor Day
·         October- Columbus Day
·         November- Veteran’s Day; Thanksgiving and the day after (and a half day before, if you are lucky); maybe even election day this year
·         December- Christmas Eve and Day
·         January- New Year’s Day; Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday
·         February- President’s Day

Then after February, there is a perennial drought of free-off days.  There is nothing in March or April (I pointed out to my boss that in college we got spring break in March/April.  He said that they are called furlough days in the real/adult world.  No, thank you; Point taken; and I will pass!).  Then there is finally a holiday in May, 3 months after the last holiday, and another 6 weeks before the next holiday. 

It feels like mental torture during these long months with no provided breaks.  Free-off days are little nuggets of mental health happiness that are necessary for a happy healthy me employee.

To celebrate the last holiday, before the holiday drought comes to an end, I decide to randomly bake something new.  On July 4th, while sitting on my couch watching some random rerun I pulled out my Martha Stewart Cookie Book and baked the first recipe that seemed interesting to me and which I had all the ingredients.  The result was these Chewy Molasses Cookies.

These cookies came out crisp on the edges and chewy in the center.  The overwhelming and over powdering smell of molasses bakes out, leaving behind an in depth, not-too-sweet, indescribable flavored cookie.  It is hard to describe the flavor of molasses.  You just have to try it and I think you will like it, or it will grow on you (as it has on me… but only in its baked form, the “raw” stuff’s smell still turns my stomach).

Anyway, these cookies baked up so flat that I thought the recipe was a failure and it made nearly double what Martha estimated.  I hate wasting cookies.  They were edible, but imperfect.  I decided to still share them with my office and my mom’s co-workers.  These cookies were so well received; I was astounded.  They are definitely a must try and a recipe I will pull out again, maybe on one of those free-off days around November or December.

Chewy Molasses Cookies
(adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cookie Book)
Makes about 2 Dozen (according to Martha)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup molasses
2 TBS vegetable oil
Extra granulated sugar or sparkling/sanding sugar for rolling


1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, spices, and salt; set aside.

2. Beat butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until combined and smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time and then molasses and oil.

3. Gradually mix in dry ingredients, just until a dough forms. Wrap dough in plastic, put dough in the fridge, and chill it for at least an hour.

4. Preheat oven to 325F.  Place sugar for rolling in shallow dish.

5. Use 1TBS cookie scoop to form cookies. Roll cookies in sugar to coat.

6. Arrange dough on baking sheets, about 3 inches apart.  The cookies will spread. Bake for approximately 17 minutes, until the cookies are flat and the centers are set.  Cool completely before storing.

7. Because cookies are chewy, store between layers of parchment.

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