Monday, April 25, 2016

Cinnamon Molasses Muffins - #MuffinMonday

I'm from a "sugar country". My father had a few acres of sugarcane and I still have vivid memories of smelling cane burning during harvest season. (The sugarcane field is burned to get rid of all the leaves. The leaves are not processed for sugar and it is more cost effective to burn them than remove them another way.)  I really loved that smell. We also had a few sugarcane plants at the house. There was no burning required - just a machete - to cut what we wanted to eat. In high school, our final history project was on the sugar industry. Just yesterday, my friends' father gave me a book he wrote on Jamaica's sugar industry. A few of my friends lived on sugar estates because their parents worked in the industry.

I say all of this to emphasise that I have a rich sugar background - a background that goes way beyond pouring sugar into my hand or into a cake. Decades ago, that bottle of white rum that I love to reach for when baking, may have had a tiny bit of cane grown by my own father. But with all of that sugar "experience", I am ashamed to admit that I first tasted molasses in February of this year. This is one of those times you just blame my mother and not look at me like that!

I honestly can't remember if we ever had molasses in the house. I have a vague memory of a gallon bottle of a dark substance being in the cupboard at one point. But that memory could be confabulated. Gingerbread cookies are not part of our culture so we certainly were not using it for that. Perhaps it went into cakes? I really do not know. I'll ask my mother later.

After using it in February, I vowed to use it more often, so it was an easy decision to use it for muffins for this Muffin Monday. I did not want traditional gingerbread - though I must admit that it was DIFFICULT to step away from the ginger. I have used ginger every day for the last two weeks. We are a ginger-loving people. I ditched all the other spices and stuck to just my second love - cinnamon. I fancied making a streusel that would emphasise the cinnamon but there have been murmurs about "Kelly trying to make us fat" so I had to hold back.

I had two bottles of molasses to choose from - one from a US brand and the other, a Jamaican molasses. I grabbed the Jamaican molasses and started pouring into my measuring cup. The little voice in my head said, "TASTE IT". And so I did. What in the world?!! Why is it bitter? I grabbed the American brand - yup definitely sweet. What is going on here? I quickly messaged a friend who quickly gave me the breakdown. The Jamaican molasses is akin to blackstrap molasses and there is very little sugar left so it's not as sweet. In fact, the process of making the molasses may be different in the two countries. There was also a quick lesson on how the process of making rum in French islands differed from in the British islands, leading to a very different taste.

That sugar experience that I mentioned above? Forget it. I clearly do not know my sugar. It's a good think I got that book yesterday. I'll be delving into it over the next few weeks. Maybe in another month or so, I can once again pretend that I know something. But first, I need to acquire "wet sugar". That's unrefined, "new" sugar - still wet from the minimal processing. I'd love to tell you more about it but the first time I saw it listed in a recipe for a popular Jamaican treat, I thought they just wanted me to wet my sugar. Don't laugh (too hard)! Wet sugar isn't popular anymore but only after obtaining some and learning more about it, can I start to claim some sugar experience again.

After all that babbling, here are my Cinnamon Molasses Muffins. Scroll down for more Muffin Monday goodness!

Cinnamon Molasses Muffins

1 1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup coconut oil (melted)
1/4 cup molasses (not blackstrap molasses)


Preheat oven to 350 F and grease or line the wells of a muffin tin. I got 8 muffins from the batch.

Whisk flour, brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, water, coconut oil and molasses.

Gently stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined. Don't overmix.

Divide among the muffin wells and bake for 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean.

#MuffinMonday is a group of muffin loving bakers who get together once a month to bake muffins. You can see all our of lovely muffins by following our Pinterest board.

Updated links for all of our past events and more information about Muffin Monday, can be found on our home page.

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  1. Ah, the more we know, the more we realize we don't know! I come from cane country as well, but just a little bit north of Jamaica in southern Louisiana. I remember getting caught on some of the two-lane roads behind the trucks carrying the cane into town for processing. My grandfather always grew some in his back garden to peel and cut into pieces for us to chew on too. We'd sit around him on the back stoop, waiting our turn for a juicy bit of cane, then spitting the dry wad out in the garden. Good times!

    We are a gingerbread baking family, especially around Christmas time so I know that the British treacle is different from the US unsulphured molasses, although I've had to substitute when I couldn't get the brand I am used to buying. When you only have blackstrap, I think it's best to reduce the amount in the recipe so it won't overpower, and add more sugar to make up for it being less sweet.

    That said, your muffins look wonderful, Kelly. Bet your whole home smelled great while they were baking!

  2. I LOVE using molasses in baked goods - what depth of flavor it adds. These sound wonderful!

  3. Oh Kelly, I always enjoy your posts so much. The recipes are just an added bonus!

  4. My mother is going to LOVE these! I can't wait to make them for her. I have scheduled your post for social media later today. Kelli

  5. This is such an enjoyable post Kelly! Coincidentally, my grandmother's family first started working on a sugar beet farm in a now ghost town in California (Betteravia) when they came over from Europe in the early 20th century.

  6. Kelly,
    My mom makes an "Indian Corn Pudding" with molasses at Thanksgiving time, and it's a fond taste memory for me. I also like soft molasses cookies, and use the rest of the molasses in the bottle in breads until it's empty.
    However, I think I'm gonna need to change that up, as these are very tempting muffins.

  7. What a great use for molasses!