Paul Revere House & Modern Molasses Cookies

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The last time I was in Boston, I followed the Freedom Trail IMG_4666

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.

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Positioned on North Square,

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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,

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my favorite room in the house was, of course, the kitchen.

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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,IMG_3434which 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!

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Click Here to Print This Recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 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
  • sugar
  • 2 1/2 ounces dark chocolate
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut oil or shortening

Instructions:

  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • Allow chocolate to set and store in an airtight container.

DISTANCE TRAVELED FROM PHILADELPHIA TO BOSTON: 500 miles

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Boston & Cannoli Cupcakes

I traveled to Boston for work this week, a trip I make a few times each year. I always stay in the same cozy bed and breakfast, The Newbury Guest House.
Located right in the heart of Newbury Street in Back Bay, with reasonable rates and fantastic shopping and dining in either direction, it’s the perfect place to stay…even in crummy weather.
I arrived in Boston in the middle of a difficult weather pattern resulting in cool temperatures and a steady drizzle. Even the Hancock Tower was enveloped in fog.
But when I saw that history-seeking tourists on bikes and duck boats weren’t thwarted,
I decided to put on my rain jacket and head out on my own adventure, a culinary one in search of the best cannoli this side of my grandmother’s kitchen. Having been to Boston many times, I knew exactly where to go.
So I took off east on Newbury Street and strolled through the Public Garden,
making way for ducklings, of course.
(Sculpture Tribute to Robert McClusky, Author of ‘Make Way for Ducklings’)
Continuing through Boston Common and past the Granary Burial Ground,
(Established in 1660, Resting Place of John Hancock and Samuel Adams)
the sight of the Freedom Trail let me know I was on the right track!

I passed through Fanueil Hall and Quincy Market,

over the Greenway,

(Final Part of the Big Dig, Opened in 2008)
and there it was, emerging from the fog, Hanover Street, home to the North End. I was getting closer!
Just a few more blocks, past many of the cafes and restaurants in this city’s Little Italy,

was 300 Hanover Street. I had finally arrived at Mike’s Pastry.

With a wide variety of Italian cookies, cannoli, cakes, and pies, I’ve never been there without a line or a difficult choice to make.

But even more challenging than deciding what type of pastries to purchase and have packaged nostalgically in a box secured with strings,

is waiting to get home to eat it.
Suffice it to say, my cannoli wasn’t going to make it all the way back to Philadelphia — it barely made it back to Newbury Street! So when I did get back to the City of Brotherly Love, missing the sweet treat and lacking the bravery to fry cannoli shells myself, I figured I’d go for the next best thing — Cannoli Cupcakes.
A light cake with mild almond and citrus flavors, chocolate ganache filling, ricotta cream cheese frosting, and garnished with mini chocolate chips — with these around, I may just be able to make it until my next trip to Boston and Mike’s Pastry.

The cake for this recipe is a modified version of The Food Network’s, with Cupcake Day Dreams‘ ricotta cream cheese frosting, and a virgin version of Java Cupcakes’ chocolate ganache.

 

Yield: 24 cupcakes

Cake Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup milk

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 24 cupcake pans.

Combine flour, orange zest, baking powder, and salt in bowl. In a stand mixer, cream the sugar and butter on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, scraping after each addition. Add vanilla and almond extracts. On low speed, alternate adding flour mixture and milk, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Mix until smooth.

Fill liners 3/4 way. Bake until golden brown and toothpick inserted comes out clean, approximately 15 minutes. Cool in pan for 5 minutes and transfer to wire rack. Cool completely.

Ganache Filling Ingredients:

  • 4 ounces dark chocolate
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon butter, room temperature

Instructions:
Break chocolate into small pieces and put in a medium bowl.

In a small pot on the stove, heat the cream and corn syrup until simmering. Do not boil. Pour cream mixture over the chocolate and stir until smooth. Add the butter and stir until melted.

Ricotta Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients:

  • 16 ounces (2 bars) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese, drained overnight
  • 2 ounces (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • mini chocolate chips for garnish

Instructions:
In a stand mixer, cream the butter and cream cheese on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add ricotta, sugar, and vanilla. Mix until smooth. Switch stand mixer to high and beat for 2-3 minutes.

Putting It All Together…

  1. Use an apple corer to remove centers of cupcakes.
  2. Use small spoon or piping bag to fill holes with ganache.
  3. Pipe frosting on cupcakes, making sure to pipe to the edge.
  4. Roll cupcake in mini chocolate chips to garnish.

DISTANCE TRAVELED FROM PHILADELPHIA TO BOSTON: 280 miles
http://newburyguesthouse.com/
http://www.mikespastry.com/

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