Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Molasses brownies: or, When experiments actually go right

We at A Book of Cookrye have been thinking about the world's oldest brownie recipe. It looked like a recipe for what would be like blondies with extra molasses. Since we at A Book of Cookrye really like both blondies and molasses, the idea of chewy, gooey molasses squares sounded amazing and perfect. However, they turned out to be like gingerbread.

Not to lie, this recipe makes really good gingerbread. We made it again, adding some shakes of various spices, and didn't tell anyone the recipe was originally supposed to be brownies. It was kind of like when we got these delicious soft cookies from a recipe that was supposed to make gingersnaps. As long as one don't tell anyone what they were supposed to be, people liked them a lot. But in the case of the brownie gingerbread, the recipe's failure to turn into what we'd call brownies (or blondies) was disappointing.
As lovely as the gingerbread was, we were hooked on the idea of really dark molasses brownies and tried to make them happen. We tried messing with various amounts of the things in the recipe to see if it would go from a dense cake to a brownie. We even looked through the nerdier cooking websites to see what it is about a brownie recipe that makes it turn out like chewy brownies and not like cake. Believe it or not, the question is little answered. A lot of people have made recipes for what looks like baked oil-paste and claimed that is the perfect brownie. We at A Book of Cookrye would argue that they're making a carrot-free, chocolate-flavored version of the many carrot cakes we have unfortunately made.
And so, we at A Book of Cookrye decided to drop the original recipe, start with our favorite brownie recipe, and just replace half the sugar with molasses. Either we'd get the lovely, fudgy molasses brownies we dreamed of, or we would get a nasty mess that would discreetly fall into the trash can.

Molasses Brownies
1 c butter (or margarine)
1 c sugar
1 c molasses
2 eggs
2 c flour

Heat oven to 350°. Grease a 9x13 pan. For this recipe, even if you usually don't, seriously consider lining the pan with foil first.
Melt the butter in a large bowl or in a saucepan. Stir in the sugar and molasses, mix well. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing in the each in thoroughly. Finally, stir in the flour just until mixed. This may be easier with a whisk than a spoon- you won't have to spend as much time breaking up any lumps.
Pour into the pan. Bake 13-20 minutes. A knife, toothpick, spoon handle, or whatever you're using should come out of the center with no liquid batter on it. If little clumps of brownie cling to it but there's nothing runny on it, they're done even though it didn't come out clean.You may think they are under-done, but they will firm and set as they cool.

Even if these failed, at least they would fail while being wonderfully dark and full of molasses, just like we wanted.

As one might suspect when half the sugar is replaced with syrup, the batter got a lot runnier. We didn't have to spread it into the pan, we just dumped it in.

We had serious misgivings when we removed this from the oven. For one thing, even though it tested done when poked with various implements, it didn't seem baked. It was like a pan of molasses-flavored Silly Putty. It really seemed underdone when we tried to cut it. Besides, the top looked oddly cratered. We considered baking it longer, but then reasoned that putting it back in the oven would only harden it until it threatened to break one's teeth.

But miraculously, they got firmer as they cooled, which confirmed our suspicions that had we baked them hard they would have cooled into molasses rocks. Since we took them out of the oven early, we had delicious molasses squares!

Look at them! It's like molasses held together with a magical force-field. They are perfect. They're all I wanted this recipe to be.


  1. A molasses story: I used to bake all of my own bread, and the recipe called for molasses. At the time I was bulk ordering a lot, and thusly discovered after a lot of math that in a 55 lb bucket of molasses, the molasses was 91/2 cents an ounce (including shipping), versus 22 cents an ounce in those tiny jars. Naturally I ordered it. When I got it, it appeared some moron had stabbed the bucket, so I dragged the bucket to the bath room,and put all the molasses into mason jars. I called to get something done about it, and I got a second (intact) bucket, which made it cost 3 1/2 cents an ounce. I have finally, 12 years later, used the initial bucket. This is probably my greatest accomplishment - having that much molasses.

    1. Wow, I can't imagine having that much molasses in the house at once. Was the recipe for that really dark brown bread?