I learned how to eat breakfast by watching my grandfather. Not how to literally eat breakfast, of course, but how to really eat breakfast - leisurely, gently, and with reverence, savoring the flavors that guide you into the day. (Unfortunately this is not the way I get to eat breakfast during the week now, although I do my best to enjoy my 6AM banana and cereal to its sleepy pre-dawn utmost...)
When I was little, around 6 years old or so, I of course wanted to do everything the way my grandfather did, which included eating breakfast... My grandfather is a gentle man - soft spoken, of few words, and a patient, hushed, there is all the time in the world manner. Sitting beside him at the breakfast table, I mirrored his moves - Grandee ate oatmeal one tiny, miniature serving at a time, so as not to waste any, and hence I too ate my oatmeal in multiple minuscule installments, each carefully garnished with a sprinkling of brown sugar and a puddle of cream. Above all, my favorite meal to share with Grandee was pancakes, because we had our own special pancake ritual: Grandee topped his pancakes not with maple syrup, but with molasses - thick, deep, intense, black-strap molasses. No one else in my family could tolerate its pungent flavor straight-up, but since Grandee liked molasses, of course I learned to love it too. I still do, genuinely, to this day - I love the heady depth of its bittersweet flavor.
In Grandee's honor, I always keep a big bottle of molasses in the pantry, even though I still remain the only one I know with a fondness for the stuff (aside from my grandfather, of course, who, thankfully, is now a hearty 92 years old). Fortunately, there are plenty of recipes that can put molasses to good use in a more, well, subtle way than using it to drown one's pancakes. Driving home from work last night, I chatted with my grandfather on the cell phone, and, when I got home, found myself drawn to that big jug of molasses. Several states away, I couldn't sit down to a stack of pancakes with Grandee, but I could bake cookies... and hence these molasses ginger-snap cookies were born. If my grandfather were here, he would say to savor their rich, sweet, spicy flavor slowly... There is always time for a cookie.
Molasses Ginger-Snap Cookies
½ cup turbinado sugar ¼ cup olive oil ½ cup applesauce ¼ cup molasses 2 egg whites * 1 cup unbleached white flour 1 cup whole wheat flour 2 tsp baking soda ½ tsp cinnamon ½ tsp ginger ¼ tsp cloves ~ Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray cookie sheets with cooking spray. ~ In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar, olive oil, applesauce, molasses, and egg, and blend well. ~ Stir in the remaining ingredients until the batter is smooth and combined. ~ Chill the dough for at least 1 hour in the freezer or two hours in the refrigerator (this will keep well overnight, if you want to make the dough the day before you bake them) ~ Drop dough by teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheets to form balls 1” in diameter. ~ Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the edges are set. *For a Vegan Version, replace the eggs whites with 1/4 cup soymilk or ricemilk, and add 1 tsp baking powder!