Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Bold sandwich cookies...

Tuesday brings us another edition of baking for the weekly Wednesday Treat Day. One of these days, I should go back and see just how many of these we have done now! This week we thought we would do a cookie, but this is not your every day type - robust, assertive and sweet aptly describe these Molasses Sandwich Cookies.

The mocha-colored dough is thick and sticky, but is easy to divide out if you use one of those snazzy cookie scoops. If you choose to use a regular teaspoon, you will have a better experience if you occasionally dip the spoon into water to quell any sticking issues. I used a regular half sheet pan (13" x 18") and was able to comfortably fit 20 cookies per sheet - any more and I think the dough balls would have run into each other as they baked.

While the cookies were cooling, I prepared the creamy filling that would hold these cookies together. Simply made from 3 ingredients, softened butter, molasses and confectioners' sugar, this filling was quite rich. However, since the cookies themselves are fairly sweet, the richness helped keep the sandwiches from being tooth-achingly sweet. The cookies are fairly thin with crispy edges and softer, chewy centers. Both of us found the racy, unique flavor from the molasses was surprisingly additive! We used a regular unsulfured "light" molasses - I wouldn't suggest using another variety as it may be too strong and overwhelm the delicate balance of flavors.

Stuffed shells are always a favorite around here, however there are those nights where I just don't have the extra time or energy to make them. Tonight's dinner, Unstuffed Shells, was a spin-off from the more laborious version with most of the work being done in the food processor.

Instead of using the extra-large pasta, we swapped those out for some medium-sized shells. While those were busy in the boiling salted water, we pureed a mixture of chickpeas, ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, a bit of chopped onion, an egg to help bind and seasoned the mixture up with salt, crushed red pepper and a touch of fresh grated nutmeg. When that was smooth, we stirred in a healthy dose of thawed frozen spinach that had been squeezed dry (potato ricers work well for this!).

The cheesy-spinach mixture is then tossed with the hot pasta, along with a bit of the starchy cooking liquid from the pasta, to add a little more moisture. To assemble the dish, we spread a layer of marinara sauce in the bottom of a large dish, spooned the pasta mixture on top and then added another layer of marinara sauce on top. A few minutes before it is taken out of the oven, a scattering of mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses are sprinkled on top. I loved how well the chickpeas blended in and just added a nuttiness without seeming out of place. There was just enough moisture from the sauce and ricotta cheese mixture to keep the pasta from being dry, yet not too much that it wouldn't hold its shape when we pulled out pieces from the pan.


  1. The cookies sure sound good, but that unstuffed shells recipe sounds intriguing! It even turned out pretty :)

  2. Two great recipes! I especially love the addition of chickpeas and spinach to the cheese mixture. Thanks for sharing!

  3. that's a must try recipe....definitely on my list to bake ~ thanks for the post!

  4. Adding chick peas would have never crossed my mind. The dish looks yummy.

    I used to make molasses teacakes for my husbands grandmother. Mine were never as good as what she remembered from childhood, but she ate them anyway. Anytime I see a molassas cookie, I think of her.

  5. I made the Unstuffed Shells recipe tonight and LOVED it!! Thanks so much for a great recipe.

  6. Joe - we also tried the Unstuffed Shells tonight and loved it. Guiltily, I have to say the reason I wanted to try it was to try using my ricer to squeeze the spinach and it is my new favorite kitchen technique! The casserole is delicious; thank you for sharing the recipe :)

  7. Lori - Thanks!

    Elle - We both thought the nuttiness from the chickpeas was a nice addition!

    Patricia - Thank you!

    Taste Memory - Let me know if you try it!

    Shirley - I'll have to see if I can find a recipe for teacakes!

    Angel and Star - Thank you so much for the feedback! I'm happy you both liked it!