February 8th is National Molasses Bar Day.
Molasses, known as treacle in Britain, is a thick, sticky by-product made from refining sugarcane and sugar beets into sugar. Sugarcane molasses is used in cooking and baking. The juice of the sugarcane is boiled. The juice goes through a centrifuge to get the sugar out. The remaining liquid is molasses. It is typically sold as “mild”, “barbados”, or “cane sugar”. If the liquid is boiled again, it is sold as “robust” or “strong”. A third boil yields “Blackstrap”–it is very strong and bitter as most if not all the sugar has been boiled out.
Molasses gives gingerbread that deep, sultry flavor. It is often paired with spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg.
The word molasses comes from the Portuguese melaço, derived from mel, which is the Latin word for “honey”.
makes about 30
1-1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup molasses
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
1 tablespoon molasses
2 to 3 teaspoons water
Grease and flour a 13×2 inch baking pan.
Heat oven to 350°F.
Sift flour with baking powder, salt, soda, and spices, set aside.
Cream shortening with sugar until light; beat in egg, 1/2 cup of the molasses and 1/3 cup water.
With mixer on low speed, beat in the sifted flour mixture just until combined.
Spread in prepared pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a wooden pick or cake tester inserted in center comes out clean.
Place pan on wire rack to cool.
Frost while still warm.
To make frosting, combine butter, powdered sugar, and 1 tablespoon molasses. Beat in 2 to 3 tablespoons water. Spread over warm bars. Cut into squares.
photo courtesy of Badagnani, wikipedia.org