I won't mention the disappointments except to say there were those bland recipes, those cakey recipes and those that I just had to wonder what they were thinking and how did they get published. However, after much research, I do think I've found something close, not perfect mind you, but close. Cook's Illustrated magazine and their website are both great resources if your looking for a recipe that's been tested and tinkered until it finally gives in and says uncle. I've rarely tried a recipe from them and been disappointed. In fact, maybe I never have.
Yesterday, in preparation for a playdate, I decided to give their Soft and Chewy Molasses Spice Cookie a go. I tinkered just barely and what came out of the oven was pretty darn good: a strong molasses flavor with a mild spice and a nice chewy texture. Of course, after a few hours, the cookies weren't as insanely chewy as the City Bakery cookies are and they were perhaps a little sturdier than I would've like, but this recipe is going in my keeper file until I unlock the secrets of the City Bakery. Enjoy!
(These cookies are incredibly easy to make and the batch isn't very large so you won't feel like an incredible pig for more than a couple days. I made 2.5 inch cookies and got eighteen cookie altogether.)
What You'll Need:
2 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1.5 tsp cinnamon
2-2.5 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cloves
several turns of fresh ground black pepper (about 1/4 tsp)
1.5 sticks cold butter cut into pieces
1/3 cup granulated sugar plus extra for coating the dough
1/3 cup dark brown or muscovado sugar
1 large egg yolk
1-1.5 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup molasses (I didn't use blackstrap, but I plan on testing with it some time soon!)
Preheat the oven to 375 and line your baking sheets either with silpats (which I adore) or parchment paper (which also works very well). In a large bowl combine the flour, spice, salt and baking soda. Mix well and set aside.
In a mixing bowl add the butter and sugars and set on the mixer. Start a low speed and, once things look pretty well combined like they won't fly out of the bowl, set the mixer to medium-high. Let it go for about two or three minutes or until everything looks light and fluffy. Turn off the mixer, scrape the sides and set it to low. Add the egg yolk and mix until combined. Then add the vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides and turn up the mixed to medium just for a few seconds and then turn it to low again. Add the molasses (I coated my measuring cup with vegetable oil to make it easier for the molasses to slide out.). Once everything is well incorporated, add the dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Turn off the mixer, remove the bowl and mix the dough a few times by hand being careful to make sure you get every last bit mixed in.
To make the dough balls, take an ice cream scoop or spoon (I use a 1.5 inch diameter scoop) and scoop out equal sizes dough balls, roll them between your palms just to get them into true balls and toss in a bit of sugar. Place the balls on the cookie sheets 2-3 inches apart. I only baked six cookies per sheet. Bake them in the oven for 12 minutes if you're making 1.5 inch diameter dough balls like I did, but adjust the time depending on the size. You'll know they're ready when their surfaces break out in crackles and the crevices beneath still look a bit underdone. Cool them on a rack and then enjoy!
Approximate Dinner Cost:
Cost per Meal: It's hard to gauge the exact cost, but I think this is right. There should be 9-12 servings, but um, there were far fewer for us...