Monday, December 6, 2010

Christmas Traditions and Shoofly Pie Cookies

North Pole Pines in Farr West, Utah
It's been a tradition of ours for many years now to cut down our Christmas tree the morning after Thanksgiving.  Once home, the Christmas music turns on, the decorations come out, and the tree goes up.  We always have Elf and Christmas Vacation playing on the screen, as we decorate and eat yummy leftovers from Thanksgiving.  

This year we found a Christmas tree farm called North Pole Pines in Farr West, Utah. Friday morning we woke up early, stopped by a new downtown coffee and tea shop called The Rose Establishment, and then headed north to Farr West.  The air was crisp and the sun was shining as we found the perfect Balsam Fir amidst the backdrop of dramatic mountains to the east.  It was quite stunning.

One of our newest holiday favorites is a recipe for Shoofly Pie Cookies.  We had the pie version for the first time last year from Sweetpea Baking Co. in Portland, so this year I decided to try it out at home.  It's a fluffy molasses type dessert from the early 1920's and was a tradition among early American settlers called the Pennsylvania Dutch who migrated from Germany.  It's also quite popular among the Amish people today.  The meaning behind the name may originate from the pie's sticky sweetness which would attract flies and leave bakers with the job of constantly shooing them away.  Or it may also have come from a popular molasses in the 18th century called Shoofly Molasses.  I love the uniqueness, history, and lovely taste of this long time American tradition.

Shoofly Pie Cookies
Shoofly Pie Cookies (modified from a recipe at Vegan Thyme)

Pie Crust:
1 cup coconut butter or oil
1 tsp. salt
3 cups spelt flour
1/2 cup boiling water

Mash the coconut butter and then add salt and mash again.  Boil water and pour it over the coconut and salt.  Mix well and allow to come to room temperature, about 10 minutes.  Add the flour and form the mixture into a ball.  Oil a 9x13 inch baking dish and press out crust onto the bottom of the pan.  Set aside.

The Filling:
1/4 plus 1/8 cup molasses 
1/8 cup agave
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup boiling water

Crumb Top:
3/4 cup coconut butter or oil
1 cup turbinado sugar
1 1/2 cups spelt flour
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Mix all the ingredients in the crumb mixture in a food processor.  In a separate bowl, mix all the filling ingredients.  Pour 1/2 cup of the filling onto the pie crust, then sprinkle about 1/3 of the crumb mixture on top.  Repeat this two more times.  Place in oven and bake for approx. 35 minutes.  The top will be a bit golden when it is ready.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely, then cover and chill cookies in fridge before serving.

SLC Christmas Tree 2010

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