The last time I was in Boston, I followed the Freedom Trail
to the North End to visit Mike’s Pastry, home to my favorite cannoli. This time, I followed the trail to the Paul Revere House.
Built in 1680, the Revere family moved into the home in 1770, five years before the legendary ride. It is the only home on the Freedom Trail, the oldest building in downtown Boston, and a great example of 17th century urban architecture.
Positioned on North Square,
ninety percent of the house’s structure is original and, though it’s only four rooms, it was considered spacious at the time.
Located immediately through the back entrance used today,
my favorite room in the house was, of course, the kitchen.
Photography isn’t actually permitted inside the Paul Revere House, but I managed to snap a few pictures with my phone before being “reminded” of the rules and after taking this photo,which I think captures the essence of a Colonial kitchen. In it, you see the large fireplace women would have cooked over and the utensils they would have used to do so, including the large hanging dinner pot. This kettle is known to be the most important fireplace utensil of the time, used to cook stews and vegetables.
After leaving the Paul Revere House I was inspired to learn more about Colonial baking, finding that most desserts were fruit-based. In New England, a common ingredient in Colonial baking was molasses, as sugar was expensive due to its lack of availability. When they did bake desserts, women used any available spices; vanilla beans and chocolate were relatively unknown.
Armed with new knowledge, I came home and developed a recipe for… Modern Molasses Cookies! The recipe combines traditional ingredients with modern flavors. Baking in Colonial times was considered a labor of love, but these cookies — not to be confused with gingersnaps — are simple, chewy, and perfect with a cup of tea!
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 1/2 teaspoons allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
- 3/4 cup shortening
- 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 1/2 ounces dark chocolate
- 1/2 teaspoon coconut oil or shortening
- In a medium bowl, combine first 5 ingredients; set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together shortening and dark brown sugar. Beat in egg, molasses, and vanilla. Mix well.
- Fold in dry ingredients and stir by hand.
- Cover and chill at least 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease cookie sheets.
- Shape teaspoonful of dough into balls; roll in sugar.
- Place balls onto cookie sheets, about 2 inches apart.
- Bake 8-10 minutes until set. Cool for one minute on cookie sheet and remove to wire rack to cool completely.
- In a small bowl, break up chocolate into small pieces, add coconut oil or shortening, and microwave on medium heat until melted.
- Using a fork, drizzle chocolate over cookies.
- Allow chocolate to set and store in an airtight container.
DISTANCE TRAVELED FROM PHILADELPHIA TO BOSTON: 500 miles