Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Kitchen Win: Molasses Sugar Cookie Sandwiches with Ginger Cream Cheese Icing

When life gets too hectic and I feel like I am losing my grip on things I always find it most therapeutic to create something. There is just something about making something with your own hands, from start to finish, that brings me a sense of peace and control.

I also find it useful if I create something that can be appreciated by others. I am not afraid to admit that I am only human and I need a little ego stroking every once in a while. There is nothing wrong with a little instant gratification in our lives.

My favorite outlet is, and probably always will be, cooking. I find cooking to be very zen like to start with. There has always been something about the process of making food from scratch that brings me an instant sense of peace. Perhaps it is because I grew up cooking with my mom and grandmother as part of our daily routine. Routine can be comforting.

Feeding people is also one of my love languages so it is a very good choice for me. Knowing that that I am giving them a warm filling meal makes my heart happy. Also knowing that they are enjoying whatever it is I made makes me even happier. There is that whole instant gratification thing I was talking about.

I have been feeling the need do some therapeutic cooking a lot lately. I knew it was getting bad when I realized I wanted nothing more than to bake something. I normally only bake around the holidays or for special occasions. Neither the husbeast nor I really eat too many sweets so it is usually a waste unless we are planning to have people over.

Even though I have no gatherings coming up I decided I just had to bake something. After some thought I decided that I would bake a batch of molasses cookies, which is always an exciting prospect. These cookies are pure joy. They were my grandfathers favorite cookies, and are my mothers favorite, and are my favorite, and the husbeasts favorite, and I have seen people fight over these cookies before. I know for certain that they will be instantly loved.

The thing was I couldn't just leave it at that. I mean I make these cookies every year at the holidays. I make dozens upon dozens of them. Seriously a lot of these things move through my kitchen. I know the recipe pretty much by heart. I can make them without really thinking about it. While that is nice, I also like a bit of a challenge.

The problem is these cookies are so perfect I couldn't really imagine how to improve upon them or change them. They are so classic and simple that you don't want to screw them up by doing something crazy with them. That would just be a crime.

I did have an inkling though of what I wanted to do. I went and searched through my Pinterest board for something I had pinned years ago. There had been a recipe for a cookie sandwich using a ginger cream cheese icing that I had always thought might be really tasty when paired with my molasses cookies.

The molasses cookies already have ginger in them. When you bite into one you get this sweet buttery almost earthy flavor that rolls over your tongue with the slightest warm bite at the end from the ginger and cloves in the cookie. It is subtle and delightful. The icing, in theory, would just give it more of a bite.

It was a risk, but one I was willing to take. I mean I could always try it on one cookie and if it was awful I still had a whole batch of glorious molasses cookies to enjoy and share. I came home with all of the ingredients I would need and got straight to work.

The husbeast arrived home just as I was pulling the beaters out of the icing. The cookie dough was in the fridge chilling so he wasn't really sure what was going on. I handed off the beaters to him so he could lick them, and he was instantly excited. He had no idea what I was making but he knew that he was going to like it.

I shooed him out of the kitchen with a bowl of supper telling him that I was making him a surprise. He whined a little between bites of fresh green beans and sausage. He wanted to know what the treat was, but I was not giving in. I like surprising him.

I waited until he was entranced by an episode of Sherlock before I retreated to the kitchen to start baking the cookies. I am really amazed he couldn't guess what I was doing once the first tray was in the oven. These cookies have a distinctive smell that I could never mistake. Or perhaps that is just me and my super sensitive nose.

I stood impatiently over the cooling rack as I waited for the cookies to be a suitable temperature to spread the icing on. I didn't want it to melt once applied, but at the same time I really didn't want to wait long to continue this experiment. Patience is not always my best virtue.

There was some level of trial and error figuring out exactly how much icing should be spread between the cookies. I think I may have applied it too generously, but I am not sure that there really is ever such a thing as too much icing. I made three sandwiches and took a deep breath before walking out to the living room and handing one to the husbeast and to our friend who had stopped by to hang out.

The husbeasts eyes grew huge with excitement when he saw what I was holding. He immediately recognized the dark brown disks sparkling with crystals of sugar across the crackled surface of the cookies, but he also realized as I placed it in his hand that the two cookies were surrounding a generous portion of the spicy icing I had been working on when he came home. Our friend made an excited noise as he realized they were still warm from the oven.

Then there was silence in the house. The three of us sat in the living room savoring every sweet rich bite of cookie. I had been afraid that the icing would overpower the cookie or not compliment it very well, but those fears were unfounded. It was glorious.

The ginger icing had a bite to it while being sweet and tangy like you would expect from a cream cheese icing. It complimented the earthy butter molasses cookies perfectly. It was all incredibly rich and the only thing I could have asked for was a glass of milk to sip on between bites.

The icing squished out the sides of the cookie as I bit into it, but I am not sure if that is because the cookies being warm had made it too soft or if I over filled them. It probably was a little of both, but I don't think it really mattered. I enjoyed every bite of it no matter how messy it got, as did the boys.

In the end the husbeast was left pretty well speechless. He kept trying to tell me how much he liked them but he said that he couldn't find words that would do them justice. I took that as an excellent compliment. I was happy.

This is definitely going to be something I try again. They are too rich to eat more than one, but that is alright because I am not sure my waistline could handle me eating too many of these suckers. I will happily put a hold on my diet to enjoy them though.

My baking was a total success. I achieved the zen I was looking for as well as some super tasty treats.

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