It’s been 17 days and not a cupcake in sight. I’m quite proud of myself in fact; the restraint exercised over the past seventeen days in this household can be, neither rivalled nor denied. I don’t think anyone in this house has ever deprived themselves of any food for this long, and I mean any food. If we want it, we buy it, we make it and we eat it.
I challenged myself to go on a self-imposed cupcake sabbatical in order to set off on other non-cupcake endeavours. So far it has been a successful mission. I haven’t made anything overly notable or extraordinary; or more precisely, nothing yet from this cookbook or anything from this remarkable blog, although I think I have been fairing well.
So today the urge to bake cupcakes was particularly strong, but my resolve to steer clear of them (for a season) was even stronger. So I decided to make Muscovado Sugar Cookies instead, as there was a surplus of sugar in my pantry and besides, who doesn’t like sugar, really. There may be some of you that are thinking, “Actually, no, I don’t like sugar all that much”, but I will speculate that you are in the minority. And besides this isn’t your typical, commonplace, find-it-in-every-pantry type of sugar, this is Muscovado sugar. What I consider to be the Dom Pérignon of sugars.
Muscovado Sugar is characterised by its chewy texture and robust molasses flavour. Unlike other brown sugars that achieve their brown colour from the addition of molasses to white sugar, Muscovado acquires its taste and colour from the juices extracted directly from the sugar cane. Its sweetness is not as potent as other refined sugars and it possesses a distinctive and matchless taste. This sugar, I have been known to pick and eat straight out of the jar, it’s that good.
As for the cookies, they emerge from the oven soft and flimsy, it is when they cool completely that the sugary crunch becomes evident. I like to eat around the small dark muscovado erruptions on the cookie surface, and save it till last. I like my last bite to be savouring the burnt sugar crispiness in these little explosions. It's those simple little things that make eating these biscuits a delight.
Muscovado Sugar Cookies
(makes approx 30 cookies)
1 cup butter
2/3 cup dark muscovado sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1½ cups plain all-purpose flour
¼ tsp baking soda
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (optional)
Preheat oven to 180°C, and line one baking sheet with parchment paper.
Cream butter and sugars until the batter lightens in colour and becomes fluffy.
Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until blended.
Slowly add the flour and baking soda and mix until flour is incorpoarted. The batter will be quite wet.
Add the chocolate chips (if using).
Drop 1 tbsp amount of batter onto a prepared baking sheet and bake for about 12-15 minutes.
When cookies are done, take them out of the oven and transfer them to a wire rack. The cookies will be very soft, so be carefully when lifting them off the tray. Let cool on a wire rack until cookies crisp up.
NOTE: There really is no substitute for the unique taste of Muscovado sugar, although if you want to make conventional sugar cookies, just replace the Muscovado with soft brown sugar.
A good quality brand of Muscovado you can use is Billington's which is a UK brand that specialises in unrefined cane sugars. They are available in Sydney at most specialty gourmet and health conscious stores like Macro Wholefoods and Aboutlife in Balmain.
Store the Muscovado Sugar in an airtight container as that, although it keeps for a long time, is prone to drying out. So to avoid your precious sugar from cementing into a brick find a good home for it. If you do, it will last you a very long time.