Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas Baking - Peppermint Ammonia Cookies

Don't let the "ammonia" scare you away!  Back in the day, baking ammonia - otherwise known as ammonium carbonate - was used as a leavening agent, similar to baking powder. Unfortunately it's really hard to come by these days -unless you live in Abbotsford, BC!  So many Mennonite ladies have asked for this ingredient that Safeway has actually started carrying it behind their pharmacy counter! ....but only in Abbotsford.  I searched Kamloops high and low for this treasure and came up empty handed.  I had hoped to make these cookies for a baking exchange tomorrow and I didn't have time to import it from the coast!  Lucky for me, the good ladies at Mennonite Girls Can Cook found a recipe that's close enough to the real thing so this recipe will have to do for now - 'til my Mom can bring me some baking ammonia next time she comes.  Grandma's recipe also calls for Oil of Peppermint but she said regular ol' peppermint extract would be fine.  I didn't bother looking for the real stuff.

This is my Grandma's recipe for those who are adventurous and are willing to track down the ingredients.  For those who want to take the easy route this is the Peppermint cookie recipe I used - sans ammonia.

EDIT: Unfortunately these cookies aren't anything like the peppermint cookies my Grandma makes. I wrote this post before I tried the recipe. The baking ammonia really does make a difference in texture and taste.  These are much more "cakey" - if that's a word.  They're still good so please do try the recipe...just not what I was hoping!

Peppermint Ammonia Cookies

1/2 cup          butter
1 1/2 cups      white sugar
2 eggs
2 1/2 tsp        baking powder
4 1/2 cups      flour
1 cup             whipping cream
1 tsp             oil of peppermint
1 1/2 Tbsp    baking ammonia
1/4 cup          boiling water

Dissolve baking ammonia in the boiling water.  Cream the butter and sugar together thoroughly, adding eggs.  Add peppermint oil.  Mix baking powder with 2 cups flour and gradually add to creamed mixture alternating with the whipping cream. Add the additional 2 1/2 cups flour.  Mix well.  Chill dough an hour or two.  Sprinkle countertop liberally with flour and roll out to about 1/4 inch.  Use a small round cookie cutter to make circles (an empty tomato paste tin is a good size).  Bake at 375F for 8-9 minutes or until the bottoms are JUST really really really don't want to overcook these!

Photo courtesy of Mennonite Girls Can Cook

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