Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Molasses Crinkles

It's the day before Christmas, and I'm finally done with the baking, and almost with the wrapping (still waiting on the UPS guy to bring the final batch of goodies from Amazon, thank goodness for Prime!) The last bunch of cookies has been dropped off, the last pie delivered, to the dear 94 year-old clan patriarch up the road, who I adore.

And happily, I am left with a few of these tasty cookies to keep for just us. They're Molasses Crinkles, from the book Sweet, Sweet Sorghum, by my friend Rona Roberts, and you can find her recipe for them on her blog Savoring Kentucky.

The recipe is actually derived from an old one by Betty Crocker, but if you make it with sorghum instead of the usual cane molasses, the cookies come out with a more earthy, subtle flavor, rather than the smack-you-in-the-face thing that normal molasses does.

And the best part, at least as far as I am concerned, is that they remind me of my mom, who loved a good molasses cookie. So here's to moms everywhere, and Christmas, and cookies. And may God bless us, every one.

Molasses Crinkles made with Sorghum

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Sorghum Caramel Sauce

Sorghum Caramel Sauce

I know, enough with the sorghum already, right? But when I posted about the sorghum caramels on Facebook, my friend J asked if she could thin the recipe down to use it as a caramel sauce on ice cream.

I suppose you could. But hey, when have I ever turned down an opportunity to work with sugar and butter and cream? So here it is J, a sorghum caramel sauce for you! I thought I had one in a book I just got, but nope. So I whipped one up for you:


1 Cup white Sugar
1/2 Cup sorghum
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 Pinches of good quality sea salt*
1/3 Cup heavy cream

Things you can whisk in at the end:
1 tsp vanilla or
2 tsp. bourbon or
Some other thing of that nature.


Place the sugar, sorghum, and butter in a large, heavy saucepan under a medium high heat. Stir constantly as butter and sugar melt. Let mixture bubble in pan for a couple of minutes or so, getting nice and frothy and bubbly, stirring regularly. Turn the heat down to medium lowish, and slowly whisk in the cream. The caramel sauce will be, as they say, to die for. Serve over goat milk ice cream, or whatever else your heart desires, storing it in the fridge. If it hardens up, warm the jar in a bowl of warm water to thin it out before serving.

* I love the Fleur de Sel from Le Tresor at The Saltworks, just lovely stuff.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Sorghum Caramels

These are so easy to make it's positively indecent. I modified a recipe from an old cookbook I love by Susan Hermann Loomis titled Farmhouse Cookbook (you can imagine why I love it), which is just a basic caramel recipe. However I substituted Bourbon Barrel Foods Sorghum for the usual dark corn syrup, and while the caramels are still cooling, if the scrapings from the pan are any indication, the result is going to be spectacularly good.

(Edited later to add: And oh my yes, they are redonkelously good. Splendiferously good. So good I almost didn't want to pack them up and send them off to the people I was mailing them to, good. But I did. Pat me on the head someone, please.)

Caramels in the pan, waiting to be cut and wrapped.


2 Cups Sugar
1/2 Cup Sorghum (replacing dark corn syrup, which I will never buy again.)
1/2 Cup whole milk
4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 Cup heavy whipping cream
1 Teaspoon vanilla extract


Butter a 7 x 12" baking dish.

Place all the ingredients except the vanilla in a large heavy saucepan (at least 3.5 quart), stir, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

Reduce the heat to medium, and cook at a slow boil until the mixture turns golden and reaches 246 degrees on a candy thermometer, some 20 to 30 minutes. Stir gently but regularly in the center of the pan. Stir, stir, stir. This is important. Boring, but important.

Once the temp reaches 246 degrees, quickly whisk in the vanilla, remove the saucepan from the heat, and pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish.

When the mixture has cooled, cut it into 1/2" squares with a lightly buttered sharp knife (easier to cut that way) and wrap them individually, either in waxed paper or aluminum foil. The caramels will keep about two weeks if stored in an airtight container in a cool place. Makes approximately 36 pieces.

The finished product,
looking less glossy than they should
because I left waxed paper on them overnight.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sorghum Chocolate Pecan Pie

And here's the follow-up to my last blog post, the finished piece and the recipe with my own fiddles and wrinkles and notes added. Thanks again to the folks at Bourbon Barrel Foods for their splendid product and the recipe to start with, that being the obnoxious editorial type that I am, I couldn't help but mess with. 

Sorghum Chocolate Pecan Pie
1 unbaked pie crust1
1 cup Bourbon Barrel Sweet Sorghum2
¼ cup melted butter
1/3 tsp. salt
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup pecan halves
1 cup dark chocolate pieces, loosely chopped3

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Put the sorghum, butter, eggs, and vanilla into a large bowl. Add the sugar and salt. Mix together gently with a spatula. Then beat together for about two minutes with a hand or stand mixer on medium speed until well mixed. Gently fold in the chocolate and the pecan halves. Pour into an unbaked pie crust (note a glass or ceramic pie pan works best.) 

Bake at 450 for ten minutes then reduce heat to 350 and bake for another 25 to 30 minutes or so. Note that it will still seem a little wiggly, and won't be completely set until after it has cooled a bit (it still continues to cook after you take it out of the oven.) 

Check the crust edges at about 15 minutes into the second thirty to see if you need to use pie protectors, or use foil to protect the edges as needed. You may wish to put a sheet of foil over the entire top for the last 15 minutes, shiny side out.

Let the pie cool on a rack for at least two hours before cutting.

1) Flouring both sides of the pie crust is helpful for pies high in sugar such as this.
   1201 Story Avenue
    Suite 175
    Louisville, KY 40206
    3) I prefer to use Callebaut Intense Dark chocolate when I have it in the house but it’s expensive and you have to mail order it, so instead I usually use nine to ten squares of Ghirardelli, half 60% cacao, and half 72%, which you can get at most good grocery stores.

(Also note, if you're local to Williamstown, you can buy sorghum from the very friendly folks at Edmonson's Grocery.)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Search for Sorghum

This past weekend I made a pie. Not a big deal you'd think. I make pies from time to time. I actually made two. One was my signature Chocolate Chess Pie, about which I have blogged on my historical food blog, Peacock With Stuffing. I was making these pies to take them to the annual Eastern Star Christmas Dinner, (Eastern Star being the woman's side of the Mason's Lodge to which my husband belongs.) The other pie was a new one for me, a Chocolate Pecan Pie, which I decided I'd make with Sorghum, a lovely syrup made with cane sugar, rather than the corn syrup commonly used to make pecan pies.

Sorghum, being rather particularly a Kentucky food, seemed more appropriate to use than corn syrup. Besides, corn syrup is just, well, rather yucky. And I found this great company in Louisville, Bourbon Barrel Foods, from which I could mail order this lovely stuff. A tin of it had arrived in good time, I had the recipe from their website to work from, and I was all set.

Except, well, I am persnickety, and a pain in the ass in general. I badgered the poor dear intern who runs Bourbon Barrel Food's Facebook Page with questions about the recipe. What kind of chocolate? Melted? Chips? Bakers? (Horrors.) She politely and in a timely fashion replied that she used chocolate chips. I tossed that aside and decided to get Ghirardelli, in at least a 60% cacao, and wound up getting two bars, one 60% and one 72% and using some of each to get the one cup of chocolate called for in the recipe. If I'd had time I would have mail ordered some Callebaut Intense Dark, but I didn't, so oh well.

Then there was the question of timing on the cooking. The recipe is vague. For how long should it cook? And should I cover the pie crust? (I did, I have those lovely pie crust covering things from King Arthur Flour that do such a good job.) I wound up cooking it almost too long, and it wound up almost but not quite burned, and I'm not going to post the photo in this blog post because, well, it twernt pretty. And besides, I'm going to do a follow-up post. But it tasted splendid.

But the interesting part was at the party. As I brought my pies in, I fully expected my Chocolate Chess Pie to be the hit. It usually is. It's my signature pie, and as it is somewhat obscure (although I have recently been told it's very common in Louisville), I expected everyone to oooh and aaaah over it. Nope. Not a peep. It sat there, at least for a while (eventually it was eaten.) But once I told people the other pie was a Sorghum Chocolate Pecan Pie, that thing flew out the door of the kitchen. One guy actually took two pieces, put them on a plate, and didn't even eat them, just jealously guarded them all afternoon. I think he took them home.

But the part that you could have knocked me over with a feather about came later. One of the older ladies came up to me, introduced herself, and get this, asked me for my recipe for my pie. I thought I was going to fall down. I was honest, said it was not my recipe, and told the several ladies who had gathered where I had gotten it from. But you have to understand. My husband and I moved to the extremely rural area in which we live here in Kentucky about ten years ago from Minnesota. Neither of us is originally from Minnesota, but that doesn't matter, we are known as "those people from Minnesota." And for me, that Yankee girl, to have the local matriarch of the Thompson clan (and clan they are!) ask me, me! for my recipe, is a thing of wonder indeed.

Later, one of the other ladies asked me where I got my "sargum." I told her, BBF. She said, "Oh, you can get it at "X Local Grocery Store." Hmm. I had no idea. So after the dinner (it was still early afternoon) we stopped by and bought a jar. Oddly, it did not say Sorghum on the label, rather Molasses, but the man who owns the place (a local legend with whom I would never want to argue, as I am Not From Here), insisted it was the real deal.

I brought it home, and compared it to what was left in the bottom of the can from BBF. Not at all the same color. Hmm again. The next day I called the number on the jar of the "Molasses that was called Sorghum", and spoke to the man who made it. He was vague and unhelpful, and even said he didn't know what sort of cane he made his syrup from. Hmmm a third time. I found that suspicious. So I mail ordered some more Sorghum from a third source, and once it arrived noted it was dark, but not as dark as the "Molasses that was called Sorghum" but not as light as the lovely stuff from BBF.

So today I broke down and got a case from BBF. And am going to make a whole suite of pies, and do some taste testing and recipe tweaking, and when I do I'll post more pictures and an update. And I know some friends and foodies who'll be getting some real Kentucky Sorghum for Christmas this year. Because this stuff rocks, and I am obsessed. So much so that when I wake up in the wee hours of the morning (as I do from time to time) I find myself thinking about Sorghum. And that just ain't right. But it sure is sweet!