I made spice cookies with what might be considered an unusual combination of flavors: molasses and caraway seeds. Yes caraway seed cookies. I love the pungent bite caraway seeds provide. It’s a common European spice that deserves more attention than it gets in my neck of the woods. I adapted these cookies from a well-documented molasses sugar cookie that appears on the jar of Grandma’s brand molasses. Grandma’s has been around since 1890, so I updated the ingredients by substituting butter for shortening, and caraway seeds for the more expected spice combination of cinnamon and nutmeg.
I got the idea when traveling in South America earlier this year. I couldn’t help notice that caraway seeds were a rather common spice. At least more common than it is here in North America where it appears almost exclusively speckled through slices of rye bread at Deli counters everywhere. It’s a bit more common in Europe, where the warm, earthy flavor is an important element in the cool weather cuisines of Austria, Sweden, Denmark, and particularly Germany.
Sausages, cabbage dishes and of course rye bread are great savory showcases for this spice. But when I was traveling in South America I noticed caraway seeds flavoring sweet treats as well. I was particularly impressed by the caraway cookies I tasted in Uruguay. There were several versions of caraway cookies in the bakery cases I saw. Some were delicate and crisp, not unlike Swedish rye cookies, others were a rich, leathery brown and deeply flavored with caramelized sugar.
My version of caraway cookies takes a little from both and includes a bit of ground ginger too. It’s kind like a cross between rye bread and gingersnaps. Don’t scrunch up your face, it’s intended to sound delicious. After all, cinnamon toast rye bread has a long and proud tradition. I’ve also had French toast made from rye bread. These cookies will remind you of both of these old-fashioned favorites. GREG