Monday, April 21, 2014

Sally Anns and a Can of Spam

Sally Anns are one of my favorite cookies. By their taste alone, they evoke a sense of home and comfort, reminding me of the kitchen at my grandparents' place and the simple happiness of mid-afternoon sweets. They're the only food that evokes the thought, This would be better with a cup of coffee. Making them was a good Easter activity, especially as I was stuck away from the family due to unpacking (the books are now free!) and yard work shenanigans (such as finding a dead mouse in the yard, which was lovely).

With help from my mom, I found the recipe in the family cookbook (my great-great-grandparents are on the cover, and other awesome old pictures are scattered throughout). I decided that the transgression of buying a can of Spam (just once) was worth it for the sake of the cookies. Poke holes in the bottom of the can to allow for air flow.

I didn't have enough butter for a full batch, but half of one made 18 Cookies of Unusual Size. I made the mistake of microwaving the butter a bit too long, resulting in very sticky and soft dough. Don't overdo it, people.

Sally Anns
1 c. butter, soft but NOT melted            1 tsp. baking soda
1 c. sugar                                                1/4 tsp. ginger
2 eggs                                                     1/2 tsp. cloves
3/4 c. molasses                                       1 tsp. salt
1/2 c. buttermilk or sour milk                1/4 tsp. allspice
4 c. flour                                                 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in order, one at a time. If dough is too soft to work with, refrigerate for one hour. Knead dough briefly on a floured surface if still too sticky. Roll out to 1/4 inch thickness; use the Spam can to cut out cookies, lifting and dropping them onto an ungreased cookie sheet in one motion. Bake at 350 for 7 to 8 minutes. Cool on a rack before frosting.

I also spilled powdered sugar all over while making icing. (Grandma would have had a good laugh at all my mix-ups.) As I didn't have gelatin on hand, I went with plain icing, but real Sally Ann frosting is delightful. It hardens to a tasty crisp, making the cookies stack very well and keeping them moist and soft in perfect contrast.

(This is another one of those times when I will conveniently and repeatedly "forget" that gelatin is not vegetarian. The comfort is worth it.)

Sally Ann Frosting
1 pkg. unflavored gelatin      2 c. sugar
1/4 c. cold water                   1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 c. water

Dissolve gelatin in the cold water. Combine sugar, salt, and remaining water; boil five minutes, covered. Remove cover and boil until it spins a thread. Remove from heat and pour over gelatin mixture. Beat until the mixture holds peaks (this may take some time). Use immediately. (This makes nice Christmas cookie frosting, too.)

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