When I did a little bit of traveling in South-East Asia at the beginning of the year, I sent home a big package of ingredients I found on the way: spices and rice from Bali, honey and coffee makers from Vietnam, and blackstrap molasses and black and white peppercorns from Malaysia… Of course, somewhere on its long trek home, the glass bottle of molasses was crushed to bits, leaking all over everything in my big 10-kilo box. By the time my goodie box made it to Montreal, it was in a giant plastic garbage bag, completely unrecognizable and saturated with gooey, sticky, pungent molasses. I was obviously very confused when I picked up my garbage bag at the post office since I had sent home a cardboard box, but then the molasses smell hit me. It took hours to clean up, and I thought I’d never touch molasses again.
Months later, I found this fancy can of black treacle when I was in Brampton, Ontario (not quite London, England, but hey, they have treacle!). Lyle’s Golden Syrup and Lyle’s Black Treacle are often listed in British recipes but I’d never come across the stuff, so I was pretty excited when I saw a stack of these cans. Some girls get excited over a new pair of shoes or a cashmere sweater, and I am over-the-moon when I find a fancy can of black treacle.
This pretty can of treacle helped me finally put my blackstrap molasses ordeal behind me. The syrup is dark and so molasses-y, but not as sweet as the fancy molasses that I am used to. My first recipe with the stuff is for these chocolate spice cookies. Their deep dark color comes from the black treacle and some Cocoa Barry extra dark cocoa.
Though the original recipe is for gingersnaps (from Alice Waters, via David Lebovitz), I don’t think these are very snappy. They are more wafer-like to me (like the ones you’d grind up to make a chocolate cookie crust). Ginger and black pepper feature prominently in the flavor of these cookies. The peppery notes surprise you as you munch on them, right at the back of your throat, kind of like when you indulge in a chilli chocolate bar. Of course, you can tweak the spice combination and use whatever spice you fancy. I think these are perfect for a cup of coffee or black tea, and the flavors are absolutely right for the crisp fall and winter months.
Chocolate spice cookies
- 210 grams all-purpose flour 1 1/2 cups
- 70 grams cocoa powder a little over 1/2 cup
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- pinch cloves
- 150 grams unsalted butter 11 tbsp, room temperature
- 130 grams granulated sugar 2/3 cup, plus more for coating cookies
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 80 grams black treacle 1/4 cup, or molasses
- 1 egg room temperature
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare a couple baking sheets by lining them with Silpats or parchment. Set aside for later.
- In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, black pepper, and cloves. Set the whisked dry ingredients aside for later.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and the granulated sugar for a couple minutes. Scrape down the bowl as needed.
- Add the vanilla and the molasses and beat the mixture until it is smooth.
- Add the egg, and beat to incorporate it, scraping down the bowl as needed.
- With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture slowly. Continue mixing until the cookie dough has come together and you can no longer see any flour. Be sure to scrape up the bottom of the bowl because some flour could be hiding, unmixed, down there.
- Scoop 1/2 tbsp amounts of dough, rolling them into a ball in your palms, and then gently tossing them in a small bowl of granulated sugar to completely coat them. Place them a couple inches apart on the prepared baking sheet.
- When your baking sheet is filled, take a flat-bottomed glass, dip it in sugar, and press down each ball of dough to get a flat disk, about 1/4-inch thin.
- Bake the cookies for 10–12 minutes.
- Let cool completely before serving.