What a woman my grandmother was. More and more these days, I am reminded of the influence she had on my life.
Our family would make the trip to northern Minnesota and spend time on the ole farmstead every summer. Nights were filled with firefly catching, and smacking mosquitos, and days were filled with cousin mischief, helping in the fields, or with grandma in the kitchen.
My grandparents ran a farmstead about ten miles from the Canada boarder. My grandmother would be up around dark to make my grandfather his black coffee and toast, and feed any other helpers that would come by that morning. The day activities were making breads, rolls, cookies, and potato salad. She never stopped or slowed. As a child, I remember the treasures we would search for in her pantry. Her doughnuts, flatbreads or cookies hidden in the scary dark basement sealed in an old metal coffee tin.
The Aunt Sally cookies were and still are my favorite. They graced every special functions from weddings, gradations and bbqs. My pockets and cheeks were filled with these cookies like a squirrel forging for the winter. I couldn’t get enough! The soft gingery spiced cookie with a crunch of the frosting on top. Great for dunking in coffee, or eating as a frozen treat during hot summer days.
When I went to college, I had sent my grandma a few recipes cards and asked her to send me some of her favorites. She included the Aunt Sally cookies. After talking with aunts and my mom about this recipe, I made a few modifications. The original recipe was to feed an army. It had over 6 cups of flour and made over 50 cookies. The additional modification was the amount of spice. My grandmother would often use spices that had been around for a few years reducing the loudness of flavor. After much testing, I came to the one listed below.
I often make a large batch and will save some in the same metal coffee tin my grandma used. Every time I open the can, I say a little hello to the heaven and hope grandma knows how much she is loved and missed!
Aunt Sally Cookies
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened 4 oz, or 1 stick
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 cup water, hot
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 packet gelatin 1/4 oz
- 3/4 cup water, cold
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 ¾ cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- In a liquid measuring cup, add baking soda to 1/4 cup hot water to activate the baking soda.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and spices. Set aside for later.
- In a mixing bowl, cream together butter, sugar and molasses for about 8 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally.
- Add in the baking soda water mixtures and continue to stir. Add in the flour mixture, one cup at a time. Once dough is well mixed, lay out two strips of plastic wrap and dump dough onto it. Wrap dough in plastic wrap, form into a disc and let sit in the refrigerator for about 2 hours, or freezer for 45 minutes.
- Once dough is firm, unwrapped and layout on a generously floured surface. Preheat oven to 375F. Flour rolling pin and roll out dough into 1/2 inch thickness. Cut dough with selected cookie cutter shape. Lay cookies on parchment papered cookie sheet. This cookie will spread when cooked. Give enough space between cookies. Place cookies sheet in the freezer for about 10 minutes to firm up. Bake for 6-8 minutes. Do not over bake. Due to the dark color of the cookies it may be hard to tell if done. Look for good crackling on the top of the cookie. The cookies will appear puffy but will fall when taken out of the oven. That is normal. Cookies will be soft when you pull them out of oven. Allow to rest on baking sheet for 2 - 5 minutes, and then transfer to a cooling rack.
- In a large mixing bowl, measure out 1 3/4 powdered sugar. Set aside. In small sauce pan, add in 3/4 cup cold water and gelatin. Let gelatin dissolve. Once dissolved, add in granulated sugar and cook over medium heat. Simmer the mixture for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, take the hot mixture and add to the bowl of powdered sugar. Beat until foamy. Add in the vanilla and beat until thick.
- Turn the cookie upside down, and frost the flat bottom part.