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I have a ginger molasses cookie recipe from Cook’s Illustrated that I really love and I brought it in to work for the annual cookie swap. My friend Carol P. (not to be confused with my other friend, Carol W.) told me about a ginger cookie that her ex-husband’s grandmother used to make. She got the recipe, but could not make heads or tails of the half written directions on the index card. I told her to bring it in and I would have a look.

This is what she brought me:


My favorite line is “flour to handle,”

Carol is currently taking time away from work to help her husband recover, post-surgery, so I thought I would stop by with a batch of Grandma Sole’s cookies. As you can see, the card does not include directions, so I started combining the ingredients in a traditional cookie method (cream the fat and sugar, add egg, add the rest of liquid. Combine dry ingredients, add to wet.) It was all going well – I creamed the shortening and sugar together, added the molasses, added the eggs and then got ready to add the 1 cup cold coffee. I looked at the batter and knew instinctively that it was not going to work – the batter would not absorb a whole cup of liquid. If had had followed my gut, I would have swapped instant espresso power for the coffee, keeping the flavor without adding additional moisture. But, I told myself to have faith in Grandma Sole and dumped it in. Disaster. The fat/sugar mixture seized up and curdled immediately. I swapped the paddle attachment on the mixer for the whisk and whipped it for a good 5 minutes, and the coffee marginally incorporated itself. I decided to forge ahead with the dry ingredients. I started with 2 cups of flour and it became clear I was not getting cookie batter – the consistency was completely wrong. I added an additional ½ cup of flour and realized it was closer to cake batter. I shrugged and prepped a 9x13 cake pan. I guesstimated 40 minutes in a 350 degree oven and when I checked at 38 minutes with a toothpick, it was done.

I allowed it to cool and cut myself a small piece. I was shocked that the texture was light, moist and tender. The flavor was grown-up; dark, roasty and a little bitter from the molasses and coffee. This was not a 6 year old’s birthday cake. I felt like it needed some additional sweetness, so I whipped up a batch of my favorite cream cheese frosting and it complimented the cake perfectly. So, there you have it, Grandma Sole’s ginger cookies, er cake.

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photo 3 (2)


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November 2017


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