We have so many sayings about cooking and eating. We butter someone up. Something sells like hotcakes. Or it is slow as molasses in January.
That one dates from the days when we took jugs to the general store to refill with molasses. You waited and waited… and waited for it to dribble out in the cold weather, which would crystallize molasses’ natural sugars.
The rich and robust flavour of molasses is delicious any time of year, but seems especially appealing during the coldest months.
Molasses is the juice of mature sugar cane, extracted, clarified and evaporated to the consistency of a syrup before being filtered and pasteurized.
If you have molasses in your cupboard, it’s probably a popular Canadian brand — Crosby’s Molasses. Now one of the world’s largest importers, the company got its humble start back in 1879 when Lorenzo George Crosby opened a grocery store in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. He was soon into the import and export business, trading fish and lumber with the West Indies for molasses. Four generations and 134 years later, Crosby’s is still a family-owned company and a national and international supplier of molasses and sweeteners from its headquarters in Saint John, New Brunswick.
There’s several kinds of molasses. Fancy, cooking and blackstrap molasses each differ by how they’re produced. Fancy is the highest grade and the pure juice of the sugar cane. It’s lighter in colour and has a tangy, sweet flavour. The recipes below all call for fancy molasses.
Blackstrap is the highly concentrated, final byproduct of the refined sugar-manufacturing process. As the sugar crystallizes, the residual cane juice thickens into a dark mass and is separated out through a centrifuge. Blackstrap molasses has a somewhat bitter flavour.
Cooking molasses is a combination of the two. Crosby’s also makes a light molasses, specially formulated to reduce calories but none of the taste.
Some find January a tough slog, with post-Christmas bills to pay, and a long wait until the lighter, warmer days come back.
Here’s a few recipes courtesy of Crosby’s Molasses (www.crosbys.com) to pick up a slow day in January.
Katie’s Fat Molasses Cookies
This recipe is found on Crosby’s Blog — blog.crosbys.com — along with plenty of other wonderful molasses-flavoured goodies.
- 4-3/4 c. flour2 tsp. baking soda3 tsp. ginger or cinnamon1 c. shortening (or butter)1 c. brown sugar2 eggs1/3 c. milk1 c. Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
In a large bowl cream the shortening, sugar and eggs. In another bowl combine dry ingredients. Add dry to creamed mixture, alternating with molasses and milk. Roll or pat out on a lightly floured surface, keeping the dough thick (up to 1/2 inch). Cut in favourite shapes. Bake 375 F for 10 to 15 minutes. Watch closely after 10 minutes. These freeze beautifully — if they last that long.
A fresh-baked loaf of this slightly sweet bread is perfect for a winter day.
- 2 tsp. sugar1 c. lukewarm water2 pkgs. yeast2 c. rolled oats3 c. boiling water2/3 c. Fancy Molasses1/4 c. melted shortening7 c. flour4 tsp. salt
Mix sugar, water and yeast and let stand 10 minutes. Soak oats in hot water for 15 minutes, then add molasses, salt, shortening and yeast to cooled oats. Blend. Gradually mix in flour; knead until smooth. Place in a greased bowl, cover, and allow to stand in a warm place until double in bulk. Knead lightly and place into two greased loaf pans. Cover and let stand in warm place until double in bulk. Bake at 350 F for 40 minutes.
Fruit And Nut Fudge
Serve this with steaming mugs of coffee or hot chocolate and it’s sure to make a party of cross-country skiers or snowmobilers happy.
- 2 squares semi-sweet chocolate, melted2 c. sugar1/2 c. evaporated milk1/2 c. Fancy Molasses1/8 c. butter1/2 c. nuts (finely chopped)1/4 c. raisins or other fruit1 tsp. vanilla
Put the sugar, milk and molasses in a saucepan. Stir until dissolved. Boil over medium heat to 238 F or until a little of the mixture forms a soft ball when dropped in cold water. Stir in the butter and chocolate. Allow to cool, and then beat until creamy. Add nuts, fruit and vanilla. Pour into an 8×4-inch greased loaf pan. When cool cut into squares.
Garlic Sweet And Sour Meatballs
- 1 kg (2 lbs.) hamburger meat2 cloves of garlic (chopped fine)2 eggs (well beaten)1 tsp. salt1/2 tsp. celery seed
Combine the above ingredients. Mix well and shape lightly into 1-1/2-inch balls.
Cook over medium-high heat in skillet. Meatballs are cooked when there is no pink in the centre.
- 1 tbsp. butter1 c. ketchup3/4 c. chopped onions1 c. boiling water1 beef OXO cube1/2 c. Fancy Molasses1/4 c. brown sugar2/3 c. vinegar2 tsp. dry mustard1/2 tsp. pepper
Combine the above ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer for five minutes. Remove from heat. Add meatballs, heat on minimum for 10 minutes. Serve hot.
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