I’ve been away a lot lately. I started a new position at work which has resulted in me traveling probably 80% of the time since I began the job. It’s hard going from seeing my boyfriend every day after work to seeing him practically just on the weekends!
He doesn’t cook much, so I try to do some food-shopping with him before I go on long trips so he can have stuff to eat that isn’t fast-food or Chinese delivery. Besides that, I also like cooking and/or baking him something he loves before I leave, so he can have a taste of real cooking (as opposed to his Chef Boyardee and ramen noodles).
I decided to spoil him a bit by making something not as healthy and wholesome as I usually do: cookies. We had all the ingredients, as well as lots of mix-ins like chocolate chips and M&Ms. I never made cookies with M&Ms or any candies in them before, so I was pretty excited to give it a go. But, I came into a problem: I assumed I had brown sugar in my pantry when, in fact, I didn’t. Crisis? Nah.
Did you know you can make your own brown sugar? I feel dumb for not knowing this to be true!
To make molasses, the cane of a sugar plant is harvested and stripped of its leaves. Its juice is extracted usually by crushing or mashing, but also by cutting. The juice is boiled to concentrate it, which promotes the crystallisation of the sugar. The result of this first boiling and of the sugar crystals is first molasses, which has the highest sugar content because comparatively little sugar has been extracted from the source. Second molasses is created from a second boiling and sugar extraction, and has a slight bitter tinge to its taste.
Well, I had blackstrap molasses in my possession. I knew it was a healthy product, which is why I bought it, but I’d only ever used it to make a healthy, whole-grain molasses/ginger bread for a friend. So, what is it?
The third boiling of the sugar syrup makes blackstrap molasses. The term is an Americanism dating from around 1920. The majority of sucrose from the original juice has been crystallized and removed. The calorie content of blackstrap molasses is still mostly from the small remaining sugar content. However, unlike refined sugars, it contains trace amounts of vitamins and significant amounts of several minerals. Blackstrap molasses is a source of calcium, magnesium, potassium, and iron; one tablespoon provides up to 20% of the daily value of each of those nutrients. Blackstrap has long been sold as a health supplement.
With a bit of worry that my final product would be bitter, I dug up the sugar and the molasses I had in my pantry and prepared to make brown sugar!
How to Make Brown Sugar
For every cup of brown sugar you need, get…
- 1 cup sugar (preferably organic)
- 1 tbsp molasses
I only needed 3/4 cup so I added 3/4 cup of sugar to a medium bowl and topped it with about 3/4 tablespoon of molasses.
I just whisked like crazy and in about a minute I had the fluffiest brown sugar ever!
With all of the nutrients blackstrap molasses has, my cookies are about as healthy as cookies can get… or at least that what I’m convincing myself! Hah!
One-Bowl Chocolate Chip M&M Cookies
Adapted from the Cranberry-Chocolate Cookies recipe on the side of my King Arthur White Whole Wheat Pastry Flour bag. Yields about 18 cookies.
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, margerine, or other bake-friendly spread
- 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 egg
- 1-1/4 cup King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli)
- about 1/2 cup M&Ms
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, cream together the brown sugar, vanilla, butter, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. (If you make your brown sugar from scratch, just use the same bowl!) Beat in the egg until completely combined.
Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula, then add the flour, mixing until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
Using a small cookie scoop, space balls of dough about 1.5 inches apart. Flatten with your palm or a spatula to flatten out top. Add 3 M&Ms on top of each cookie.
Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown on edges. Let cool on the cookie sheet for 2 minutes, then move to a cooling rack.
There are no photos of the cookies, sorry. But all you have to do is imagine some imagery of delicious, sweet perfection… the smell of the Keebler Elves’ tree… and the taste of pure joy…!