Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Sorghum Ginger Cookies

I'm sorry there is no photo. The camera is traveling with the other half of the household and won't be back home for 2 weeks. Y'all will have to bear with me.

With the weather finally turning cooler, we are approaching sorghum molasses season. This magical substance is produced every autumn, usually appearing in October. Nashvillians can see a demonstration of traditional sorghum production at the upcoming Music & Molasses Festival. If you live around here, the best place to buy it is the farmer's market. Whole Foods also carries a good quality local sorghum molasses, but the price is high. (I'm sure you are shocked.) If you have time to get out of the city into sorghum territory (e.g., around Ethridge in Lawrence County, TN), you can buy directly from the farmers who make it, often in gallon tins. Sorghum molasses (a.k.a. sorghum syrup) can be ordered from a number of on-line retailers, but be careful that you are getting 100% sorghum, and not sorghum-flavored corn syrup. Ew.

Years ago, sorghum was used extensively in the South for all sorts of sweetening purposes. It is great in pies, and makes a wonderful corn light bread (for the uninitiated, this is a term for sweetened corn bread). A popular (and exceedingly non-vegan) Nashville restaurant makes amazing peach preserves using sorghum. Those preserves and the iced tea are probably the only vegan items on the menu. Sorghum molasses is wonderful poured over pancakes, waffles, and hot biscuits. I was a teenager before I knew there was any other kind of molasses.

My favorite recipe for sorghum is that for my great-grandmother's "Ginger Cakes." Sorghum molasses has a bright, fresh, tangy flavor that is fantastic with the ginger and lemon in these crisp cookies. You could use regular cane molasses and the cookies would still be good, but not the same. Yesterday, I made them using MimicCreme, a new vegan cream made from nuts, and it worked very well. If you don't have MimicCreme, any vegan cream sub would likely be fine.

This makes a lot - enough for an army of great-grandchildren. The cookies keep well when stored in an airtight container, so go ahead and make the full recipe:

Mix together:
1 1/2 c. unsweetened MimicCreme (or vegan cream of your choice)
2 1/2 c. brown sugar
1 1/4 c. sorghum molasses
2 T. ground dried ginger (be generous)
2 T. grated lemon rind (be generous)
2 T. baking soda
some salt (around 1 teaspoon or a little more)

Stir for 10 minutes. I put the stand mixer on the lowest speed and walk away. Then add:

9 c. all purpose flour

It may get too thick for your mixer, and you will have to finish by hand. Cover and refrigerate for several hours (up to several days) so the dough is firm. Roll out *thin* on a well-floured board. The dough will still be sticky and you need a lot of flour to roll these without them bonding to the counter top. Cut in shapes and place on greased baking sheets. Brush the top of the cookies with water. Bake at 350 for approx 15 minutes. The baking time can vary widely depending on the size and shape of the cookies. Watch, as thin crisp cookies go from done to burnt very quickly. Cool on racks, and store in an airtight tin. Enjoy!

1 comment:

julie hasson said...

Your cookies sound delish John! I'm so sad that we can't get sorghum molasses in Portland. It sounds so good!