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Tales from Out East & a Recipe for Island Molasses Cookies

Fact: my father was born in Prince Edward Island in 1802.

Island Molasses Cookies

No, that’s a blatant lie, but sometimes it seems like he was {it’s not because he looks two centuries old… because he doesn’t}. It’s the stories he tells about growing up out east that make me question his birth date. Of course, I don’t know how many of these stories are true, as some of them are a little too obvious {in the tradition of: “we walked up hill both ways to school”}, but sometimes it’s hard to tell. In fact, he had one of my young cousins convinced for years that he was a girl as a child until he grew his legs.

Island Molasses Cookies

Some of these stories have been confirmed by his siblings {or perhaps they’re just collaborating with him… given the fact that they also spread the same lies tales}, and it’s those times that make me question the era from which he comes from.

For one, all eight of them attended school in the local one-room schoolhouse. They worked in potato fields as kids {“one year we lost the whole crop to rot” – see? Did he grow up in mid-nineteenth century Ireland during the Great Famine?}, and often woke up in the morning in the dead of winter with frost on their eyelashes. To be honest with you, if I had been told that my dad’s first mode of transportation was a horse and buggy, and it was used to bootleg moonshine in the 1920s, I would not bat an eye.

Island Molasses Cookies

The thing is, however, I wouldn’t trade my two hundred year old father, his siblings, or their tales for anything. Their old tyme upbringing and consequent outlook on things has made me {and the rest of my crazy family} who I am today. They are a constant source of love, laughs, and appreciation for life {I especially appreciate the fact that I have never worked on a potato field a day in my life}.

So when I was trying to think of the perfect cookie to create for the Food Bloggers of Canada & Manitoba Canola Growers’ cookie contest {they’re sending two lucky food bloggers to the FBC conference in Toronto in April, and I want to go!}, I settled on something classic and inspired by my ancient dad: Island Molasses Cookies. Sure, I could have made something unique {that oozes chocolate, is infused with citrus, or shoots out glittery rainbows when bit into} and exciting, but instead, I decided to do a bit of a throwback to my family’s history {regardless of accuracy}.

Island Molasses Cookies

I’ve quite dramatically changed the recipe from the one I grew up with {the original version included a mountain of sugar, white flour, and margarine – which was surely smuggled from Newfoundland when the now-province was still a British Dominion, and the fatty substance was still illegal in Canada}, but the idea is still the same: sweet molasses, heady spices, and a distinct crackle-top surface that gives you a sneak peek into the soft heart of the cookie.

Now if you’ll please excuse me from these stories of my family’s past… I have cookies to eat.

Island Molasses Cookies

Island Molasses Cookies

Makes 30

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ cup canola oil
¼ cup cooking molasses
1 tablespoon milk
¼ cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperatre
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 tablespoons granulated sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. In a medium bowl, whisk flours, cornstarch, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg; make a well in the centre of the mixture.

2. In large bowl, whisk oil, molasses, milk, brown sugar, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar (reserve the rest for finishing), egg, and vanilla.

3. Pour the liquid mixture into the well in the centre of the dry ingredients and mix until all of the dry ingredients are well incorporated. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour, or overnight.

4. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper. In a small bowl, mix the granulated sugar and cinnamon.

5. Scoop about 1 tablespoon of cookie dough at a time, and roll between your hands to form a ball. Toss in the sugar and cinnamon mixture to coat, and then place on the parchment-lined cookie sheet. Each cookie sheet should have 15 balls of dough on it, spaced about 2.5cm {1 inch} apart. Bake, one batch at a time, for 10-12 minutes, or until cookies are firm to the touch and cracked on the surface. Cool completely on a wire rack, and store at room temperature in an air tight container for up to one week.

  1. Leanne Campbell11-26-12

    Love the story! Cookies look delicious!

  2. Jenn11-28-12

    Bahahaha…your story made me laugh out loud and I almost spat coffee at my screen. “shoots out glittery rainbows when bit into” – that was the coffee spitting moment.
    Thanks for sharing your humour and of course your family recipe.
    Best of luck and be sure to let me know when you master a cookie that shoots out glittery rainbows – I’ll buy a dozen!
    Be Well…

  3. Stephanie Arsenault11-28-12

    Thanks, Jenn and Leanne! Glad you enjoyed it! I hope you get a chance to make a batch of the cookies 🙂

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