Molasses (treacle in the U.K.) is a sweetener made from refining sugar cane or sugar beets. I’ve always loved the taste of molasses. When I was young, my mother sometimes let me taste a spoonful of it. It was good just like that, but of course, I like it when baked into cookies, too.
angelica – a plant of the parsley family
syrup spins a thread – syrup will form a brittle liquid thread when dropped into cold water.
crack stage – when dropped into cold water, it will form into threads that are still flexible, but not brittle.
hard ball stage – syrup will form a hard ball that won’t flatten when you take it out of cold water, but you can change its shape by squashing it.
quick oven (same as a hot oven) – a quick oven is about 400-450 degrees Fahrenheit and you could hold your hand in the oven about 35 seconds without burning.
soda – baking soda
INFORMATION BELOW FROM 1800s COOKBOOKS:
Stir together a cup of butter and a cup of brown sugar. Add one tablespoon ginger and one teaspoon each of cloves and cinnamon. Mix in two cups of good baking molasses and the grated peel of a large lemon. Add a teaspoon of soda dissolved in a little hot water. Mix in enough flour to make a stiff paste. Roll out very thin, a small portion at a time, and cut into narrow strips about one inch wide and four inches long. Bake in a moderate oven for ten minutes.
Place in a bowl one cup chopped roasted peanuts, one cup chopped pecan meats, one cup grated cocoanut, one-half cup finely chopped citron, one-fourth cup each of candied orange and lemon peel, two teaspoons vanilla, and two tablespoons lemon juice.
Take two cups brown sugar, one cup granulated sugar, one cup molasses, and one-half teaspoon salt. Boil to the soft ball stage, then add two squares of chocolate and one tablespoon butter.
Boil to the hard ball stage, add one teaspoon vanilla, then pour over the nut and fruit mixture in the bowl. Stir until it begins to get creamy and thick, then put into pans quickly, spreading it even with a spoon. Mark off into squares, and cut when cool. This can be varied by adding different kinds of fruits and nuts.
4 quarts popped corn
1 cup shelled, roasted peanuts
1 cup molasses
1/2 cup sugar
Put the popped corn and the peanuts together in a receptacle large enough to hold them easily. Cook the molasses and the sugar until the syrup spins a thread. Then pour this over the popped corn and peanuts and mix well until it becomes cold and hard.
Cracker Jack was first introduced at the 1893 World’s Fair.
PEANUT MOLASSES CANDY
Take one cup sugar, one cup molasses, and one tablespoon butter and boil to the hard crack stage. Stir in two cups of peanuts, or just as many as you can, as the more nuts in this candy the better. Pour onto a greased pan. When cold, break into pieces or cut into squares with a very sharp knife.
SOUTHERN HAZELNUT TOFFEE
Melt one-half cup butter in a saucepan, add one cup brown sugar and one cup molasses. Boil to the hard ball stage, add one cup chopped hazelnuts and boil to the crack stage. Pour into a buttered pan, and mark off into squares.
DELICIOUS TEA COOKIES
Cream together one-half cup butter and one cup sugar. Add four eggs, one cup chopped nut meats, one cup chopped raisins, one teaspoon soda stirred in one cup of good molasses, and one-half teaspoon each of cinnamon and allspice. Add enough flour to make a dough that will roll out thin. Mix all the ingredients well together. Bake in a hot oven and ice or not as liked.
Take one pint of molasses and add one-half cup melted butter, one cup brown sugar and one tablespoon powdered ginger. Stir these ingredients well together and while mixing, add two tablespoons candied lemon or orange peel, one tablespoon candied angelica cut into small dice, and one teaspoon soda dissolved in a little warm water. Having mixed all thoroughly together, break in one egg and work in as much flour to form a paste just stiff enough to handle. Form into balls, press a raisin or blanched almond in the top of each, and bake on greased tins in a quick oven.
Take two cups of light brown sugar, one-fourth cup of molasses, and one-half cup of water. Melt over the fire until all the sugar is dissolved, then add two tablespoons of butter. Sprinkle some salt over a quart of freshly popped corn in a bowl. Flavor the syrup with a teaspoon of vanilla after it has reached the hard crack stage and pour over the corn. Turn out on a large platter or marble slab and work until a very thin sheet. When cold break into pieces.