These cookies are a little more laborious than my preferred cookie recipes but it is totally worth it! I’ve never made button or thumbprint cookies but I thought I’d give it a try! I was super pleased with the way that these came out! Normally, molasses and other liquid sweeteners like honey have a tendency to spread the dough as it bakes and it can create really moist but very flat cookies. These cookies are fantastic and moist but hold their shape very well. I think they’re really cute and they’d make a great cookie for a holiday cookie exchange once we don’t have to worry about covid-19.
The trick here is the two-hour chill in between making the dough and baking it. It may be tough to wait if you’re impatient like me but I found that taking a nice long walk made the two hours pass by in a breeze! The cookie also uses two different kinds of sugar, brown and turbinado or raw sugar. The difference is that the “raw” sugar comes in large, golden crystals that the dough is rolled in at the end to create a distinctive “sparkle” on the outside. Rolling them in the “raw” sugar is an easy way to give them a little pizzaz. This “raw” sugar is available in most grocery stores in the baking aisle, you just may have to hunt for it a little bit. I also filled these cookies with two different fillings. If you look closely at the pictures, there’s a slight color difference that gives it away. For about half, I used leftover chocolate ganache from my Chocolate Cake recipe from a couple weeks back. For the other half, I used the filling from the recipe. Below, I’ve doubled this amount because the original recipe amount only filled half of my cookies… They’re easy to overfill so go easy on the filling at first, you can always go back in and refill if needed. I hope that you find this recipe as delectable as I did and happy baking!
Spiced Molasses Chocolate Buttons Recipe
For the Dough
195 grams (1 1/2 cup +2 tablespoons) All Purpose flour
35 grams (6 tablespoons) unsweetened cocoa
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
142 grams (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
106 grams (1/2 cup packed) dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
85 grams (1/4 cup) molasses
100 grams turbinado sugar to coat
For the filling
57 grams (1/3 cup) bittersweet chocolate (I used semisweet chocolate chips and it seemed to not be too sweet)
28 grams (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, chopped into smaller pieces
1/2 teaspoon molasses
Sift together the flour, cocoa, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, ginger, and all spice in a medium bowl.
Beat together butter, sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy in a separate, large bowl. Beat in the egg until well mixed then add and mix in the molasses.
In two additions, mix together the dry and wet ingredients in the larger bowl until well-blended. Scrape the bowl then refrigerate the dough in the bowl for two hours. To retain the moisture, cover with cling wrap.
When ready to bake, line two baking sheets with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350F.
Pour turbinado sugar onto a plate or bowl. Using a tablespoon scoop, scoop and portion the dough into balls. Roll in the sugar until covered completely. Place on the baking sheet about 1 1/2 inch apart. (They spread while baking but not by much)
Bake until set around the edges but still soft in the middle, 10 or 11 minutes depending on the strength of your over. Remove from oven and using a spoon, create a deep indent in the middle of each cookie. Return the cookies to the oven and bake 5-6 minutes more. Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool on the pans on a wire rack.
To make the filling, place the chocolate and butter together in a small microwave safe bowl and microwave in thirty second intervals until melted. Mix well between intervals (I have a terrible microwave and it only took me a minute to melt it) Once melted and mixed together, stir in the molasses.
Transfer the filling to a ziplock bag or a pastry bag. Snip a corner off the ziplock bag and fill each cookie. Let sit at room temperature until the filling is firm. Enjoy!
So I have to admit that the cover photo for today’s blog post was graciously taken by the recipients of this cake. Two of my friends recently celebrated their marriage and being a big baker, I asked if I could bake them a yummy if slightly messy cake. I had originally planned to do a butter cake with ganache frosting, a classic bumblebee cake. Looking around my pantry, I noticed I had a boxed mix of devil’s food cake that I had been dying to use and this seemed like a a perfect opportunity! Using a boxed cake mix meant that I was able to take my time with the other parts of the cake that added a lovely touch and taste. I should have taken a little extra time with the royal icing lettering but hindsight is 20/20! The royal icing was a little on the runnier side and smooshed together a little but I see that as protecting the privacy of the intended recipients!
This cake has everything! Two layers of delicious cake with a simple syrup for additional moisture with a ganache frosting and royal icing lettering! This cake was actually a two-day process which sounds daunting but I actually think it makes the whole thing much less stressful. Taking the time to properly chill the cake and the frosting allows for the icing process to be much more stress-free! I really enjoyed icing the cake, something I’m not sure that I’ve ever said before. I used to HATE icing cakes; it was always way more trouble than it was worth. I would get crumbs everywhere and could never get a smooth coating of frosting! Let me tell you that has all changed! Equipped with the right tools and knowledge, I’ve become much more at ease in the icing department. The decorations still need a little bit of work but we can’t all be perfect! To properly ice a cake, you really should use a rotating cake stand. I used to hear this all the time and thought it was a bunch of hooey but it really has some merit. It makes it so much easier to get the sides of the cake without taking off too much frosting. Using offset spatulas also helps a LOT. The funky shape to these spatulas helps to evenly distribute the frosting in an intuitive way. One word of wisdom is that the offset spatula should never actually touch the cake. The spatula is used to move around the frosting which ends up covering the cake for you.
This ganache recipe is also one that I have used for a few years but have never taken the time to use all the different bowls and pans that it calls for. Even though it makes way more dishes (which my father never appreciates), this recipe is an easy way to get lovely tempered chocolate frosting for a whole cake. The key to this ganache is the right combination of hot and cold. It’s not as finicky most tempered chocolate recipes but it does need to be warm while being made. The cacao percentage of the chocolate is also very important. The original recipe calls for 62% cacao but I’ve never been able to find that and I use 66% cacao. This is a pretty dark chocolate but doesn’t need much sugar to sweeten it. This recipe won’t really work with a smaller percentage of cacao because the ganache will be too sweet and a little oily. It’s worth the extra couple bucks to get a higher cacao percentage for this recipe. I made this ganache on the morning of the assembly of the cake and put it in the fridge to chill before applying to the cake. One super easy way to soften the ganache if it has chilled is to put in a tablespoon or two of hot water and mix it into the ganache. It helps to soften it without exposing it to the harsh temperature induced by the microwave. Not that I don’t love a good microwave but it doesn’t quite do it for this recipe. I hope that you try this recipe and let me know about your successes or failures in the comments below! Happy baking!
Chocolate Cake Recipe
For the Cake
1 box mix of chocolate cake or your favorite chocolate cake recipe
For the Simple Syrup
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
For the Ganache
10 ounces of 66% Cacao chocolate
75 grams (2/3 cup) powdered sugar, sifted
170 grams (3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon) heavy cream
2 large egg yolks
42 grams (3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
For the Royal Icing
113 grams (1 cup) powdered sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon egg white
Make the cake the day before assembly. Cut the pieces and wrap in cling wrap. Let chill in the fridge overnight.
To make the ganache, combine chocolate and powdered sugar in a heatproof bowl.
Put a medium pan of water on to simmer. This will act as part of a bain marie to melt the chocolate so make sure the heatproof bowl fits neatly into the top of the pot before you start the boil
In a small saucepan on medium heat, warm the heavy cream to a simmer. Once simmering, pour over the chocolate mixture and stir until the sugar is melted.
Nest the chocolate bowl over the pan of simmering water. Heat the bowl and stir until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove from heat.
In a small heatproof bowl, whisk the egg yolks together. Add about a half cup of the chocolate mixture to the eggs and whisk vigorously with a fork to temper. Once shiny, pour back into the chocolate mixture and whisk to combine.
Add butter to chocolate and stir until smooth. Pour hot ganache through a sieve into a heatproof container and chill for at least 1 hour.
While the ganache is chilling, make the simple syrup. Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan and heat until sugar has dissolved into the water. Remove to a heatproof container and let cool. (This simple syrup works for cocktails as well so try to make some if you have leftovers)
Once the simple syrup and ganache have cooled, remove the cake from the fridge.
Unwrap and gently brush a conservative amount of syrup over each half of the cake. Make sure the cake is moistened but not soaked by the syrup.
Take the half of the cake that was the top and place on the cake stand. Take a generous dollop of ganache and spread it over this half.
Once thoroughly frosted, put the bottom half on top, with the side that was in the bottom of the pan on top. This ensures a flat cake.
Add dollops of ganache around the side of the cake. Using offset spatula, spread a thin layer of ganache over the sides.
Once a thin layer is created, chill the cake for at least an hour. While it is chilling, make the royal icing.
For the royal icing, mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. If too thick, add a teaspoon of water until desired consistency. If too runny, add additional powdered sugar until it stiffens.
Once the cake has chilled, remove from the fridge. Place a generous dollop of frosting on top and cover. Once the top is covered, add ganache to the sides to fully coat the cake.
To smooth the sides, hold the offset spatula tight to the side of the cake and spin the rotating stand while holding the spatula steady. Push the excess frosting from the sides to the top of the cake. Once there, smooth off into the top layer with the spatula.
Chill cake for at least 30 minutes before adding words or serve immediately. It will stay well wrapped in the fridge for five days.
If adding words, put the royal icing into an icing bag with a small writing tip and write out desired message. Make sure the icing isn’t too runny or your cake may look like mine!
As the school year has started, I’ve been baking up a storm and am loving it! I’m hoping to come out with a book review in a week or so but I’m finishing up a monster of a book that I’ve been reading intermittently since April! While I finish that up, I thought I could distract you all with yet another delicious cookie recipe courtesy of King Arthur Flour. Now, for my friends out there who are allergic to nuts, this recipe may not be for them but I always encourage recipe substitutions in the name of creativity so if anyone finds a good peanut or nut free alternative to the peanut butter in the recipe, let me know if the comments below! I was inspired to look for cookie recipes so that I could share some with my godmother Sue, who has been very kind in testing out several of my blog recipes.
This was a relatively simple recipe, I didn’t run into any huge logistical or recipe errors which is great! The recipe requires butter to be at room temp and unlike the brown sugar and maple cookies, the butter can be microwaved thirty seconds to forty five seconds to soften it. The recipe will be quite stiff with the peanut butter addition so the butter can be almost melted if you need to microwave it. To make these cookies less stiff, the recipe calls for a tablespoon or two of water. You could even add another tablespoon if you need to and don’t be alarmed when the dough gets really stiff after you mix all the ingredients together.
I normally mix my dry and wet goods separately but I know that some people along with myself sometimes just throw everything in the bowl and mix. In this recipe, try to use two separate bowls for wet and dry goods if you can because the peanut butter will cause everything to stick together and not mix well. Final note is that I used chocolate chips in the cookies because they were all I had on hand. They do taste great in the cookies but you don’t get as much peanut butter without using the peanut butter cups recommended by the original recipe. So if you like a more chocolate than peanut butter, use chips but if you love that PB then go find some mini peanut butter cups to use! I hope that you enjoy this recipe and follow any of the above mentioned tips!