Spiced Molasses Brownies

February 15, 2012
Author Notes

These are inspired by the fudge-y “Chocolate Molasses Brownie” recipe in the 1943 “The Joy of Cooking”. You can make these in an 8 x 8 pan or, for a prettier dessert, bake them in a 9” round pan. We like them topped them with vanilla-scented whipped cream, but vanilla ice cream would also work well. Either way, enjoy!! ;o)

Test Kitchen Notes

Go out and make these brownies RIGHT NOW! While the recipe says the white pepper is optional, I recommend it. There is so much going on in these brownies but it works, and each bite reveals another of the great flavors in this recipe. I couldn't help myself and added some chunks of dark chocolate to the batter before baking. Don't forget the vanilla whipped cream, it's the perfect topping for these delicious brownies. —cgilsbach

  • Makes one 8 x 8 pan or one 9" round pan
  • 1/2 cup dried tart cherries or chopped black mission figs
  • 2 tablespoons / 30 ml bourbon
  • ½ cup / 4 ounces / 113 grams butter + more for greasing the pan
  • 2 ½ ounces dark chocolate
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 3/4 cup / 92 grams all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon Saigon cinnamon (use more if not using a Vietnamese cinnamon)
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ cup chopped crystallized ginger (or more or less, to taste)
  • 2 eggs
  • Vanilla whipped cream or ice cream for topping (see note below)
In This Recipe
  1. Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter an 8 x 8 square or 9” round pan. (When using a square pan, I line it with a sling of parchment pager for easier removal.)
  2. Soak the cherries or figs in the bourbon in a small bowl.
  3. Melt the butter and chocolate in a medium, heavy saucepan. Add the sugar and molasses and stir well.
  4. While the chocolate and butter are cooling, whisk together all of the dry ingredients.
  5. Add the vanilla, the crystallized ginger and the cherries or figs with their soaking liquid to the chocolate and butter in the saucepan. Stir to thoroughly blend.
  6. Beat the eggs very lightly using a fork just until they are a uniform color. (I do this in the bowl I used to soak the cherries or figs.) Add the beaten eggs to the saucepan. Using a large spoon, stir well to combine all of the ingredients. Don’t beat too hard, unless you want a crackly top on your brownies (which I understand is actually a meringue, created by beating the batter very hard once you’ve added the eggs).
  7. Add the dry ingredients and stir just until the batter is well mixed. Do not overbeat.
  8. Put the batter into the greased pan and bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick stuck into the center comes out clean. (The toothpick may be just a bit wet, but it should not have any batter on it.)
  9. Allow to cool for at least an hour before removing from the pan and slicing.
  10. Top with a generous dollop or two of vanilla whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
  11. I hope you like these. Sincerely, AntoniaJames ;o)
  12. N.B. The JOC recipe calls for ½ cup each of white sugar and molasses, 2/3 cup sifted flour, and does not include the cherries, bourbon, ginger or any of the spices.
  13. To make vanilla whipped cream, rub the seeds from ½ a vanilla pod into 2 tablespoons of sugar before you begin making the brownies. If you think to do this the night before, all the better. I do it right in the bowl in which I’m going to whip the cream, and I use the back of a small spoon, to avoid getting too much of the vanilla flavor on my hands (as opposed to in the sugar itself). About an hour before serving, put the cream into the bowl with the scented sugar, and then put the bowl into your freezer with the beaters of your electric mixer. Shortly before serving, remove the bowl from the freezer and immediately whip the cream to the consistency you like. If you don't care to use vanilla seeds, add ¼ teaspoon best quality vanilla to the sugar and rub it in well with the back of a small spoon. ;o)

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Recipe by: AntoniaJames

When I'm not working (negotiating transactions for internet companies), or outside enjoying the gorgeous surroundings here in the San Francisco Bay Area, I'm likely to be cooking, shopping for food, planning my next culinary experiment, or researching, voraciously, whatever interests me. In my kitchen, no matter what I am doing -- and I actually don't mind cleaning up -- I am deeply grateful for having the means to create, share with others and eat great food. Life is very good. ;o)