I am definitely a person who has a not-so-secret love affair with liquid smoke. I don’t know what it is about it, but it makes me swoon rapturously, and I am admittedly pretty heavy handed with it if I’m making soups, stews or chilis (particularly if I won’t be foisting it upon other people. This then also allows me to be super generous with my addition of hot peppers, hot sauce etc. but that’s a story for a different day 🙂 ).
Now these cookies are most decidedly not the first time liquid smoke has made an appearance in my baked goods. Exhibit A were these maple smoked truffles (ummm…yes please! I’ve also in my pre-blogging days made smoked peanut butter truffles. Also an excellent combo in case you were contemplating trying it yourself.) Exhibit B were these smoky sage-rosemary flavoured apple chips (these were just OK. Apple chips in general though? Super delicious. This flavour though just left a bit to be desired. I probably put a bit too much liquid smoke on them *blush* which I think made them a smite too acidic tasting….so….I’m not even complaining about the over abundance of smoky flavour in this scenario so deep is my smoky love. And no, it does not run so deep that I run around town setting fires. I enjoy smokiness on my taste buds, not in my lungs. Also, there’s the whole prison thing to consider 😉 ).
When I started thinking about doing these cookies though, I ended up falling down my usual internet rabbit whole once I started pondering how liquid smoke it actually created. Considering how much of it I’ve put away in my lifetime, it suddenly occurred to me that I might be slowly (quickly?) killing myself by consuming an exorbitant amount of chemicals (either that or preserving my corpse for all time) and maybe it’s time I take a deep breath and start preparing myself for the very real possibility of having to remove such a delicious staple from my diet.
Much to my delight however, I discovered that, although some brands/companies add some crap to their liquid smoke, it should actually be made thusly:
Liquid smoke really is made from smoke. Chips or sawdust from hardwoods such as hickory or mesquite are burned at high temperatures, and particles of the smoke are collected in condensers. The resulting liquid is concentrated down for a stronger flavor.
I got this from this article, which I highly recommend reading if you’re interested, because the origins of the invention of liquid smoke are actually quite fascinating (and frankly, miraculous that it even exists, considering the first “marketing” description of it hailed it as “Black liquid trickling down the side of a stove-pipe”. Ummm…mmmmm????!!!). I also learned via this Wikipedia article that “Pliny the Elder recorded in one of his ten volumes of Natural History the use of wood vinegar [as liquid smoke was originally called] as an embalming agent, declaring it superior to other treatments he used”. So I guess that means I’m not totally wrong in assuming I’m preserving my future corpse for all time 😉 . Also, “Pliny the Elder”?? How great is that name???!!! But I digress.)
Anywho, I also of course always love oatmeal and oatmeal cookies, and I had this container of treacle (basically British molasses, so just use molasses if that’s what you have) that I was looking to find a use for, so these sandwich cookies were born. Because I also wanted to add a bit of sweetness and brightness to the flavour, I also added a layer of cardamom and black pepper infused apricot jam.
Final verdict? I feel these cookies smoked the competition in the sandwich cookie category 😉 .
Yield: dozen cookies
- ⅔ cup vegan butter, at room temperature
- 1 ¼ cups brown sugar
- 1 egg replacer
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon chocolate balsamic vinegar
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon cardamon
- 1 cup bread flour
- 2 ½ cups olf fashioned oats
- ½ cup chopped and toasted pecans
Black Pepper Apricot Jam Filling:
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon cardamom
- 2/3 cups apricot jam
- 1 tablespoon honey (or vegan honey, or agave, or maple syrup or omit entirely)
Smoked Molasses (or Treacle) Buttercream:
- 1/4 cup vegan cream cheese
- 1/2 cup vegan butter, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 tablespoons treacle/ molasses
- 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke(optional – or more if you’re really into it like I am)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt, fleur de sel or smoked salt
- 1 1/2 cups icing sugar
- Preheat an oven to 350F and line two baking sheets with baking paper.
- In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together . Mix in the egg replacer and vanilla extract, then the vinegar and salt. Add the baking powder, soda, cinnamon, cardamom, flour and oats and stir well to combine. Once combined, stir through the pecans.
- Scoop 1 very heaping tablespoon (maybe more like 1 1/2 tablespoons) of the mixture into a ball, place it on one of the lined baking trays and lightly flatten. Repeat with the rest of the dough. Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes.
- Remove from the oven when the edges are just starting to turn golden. The middles can still be a bit soft, the cookies will harden up once they start cooling. Allow the cookies to cool for a few minutes, then flip each cookie over and create a slight dip/dimple in the centre of each one (this will be for your apricot jam filling). Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely before assembly.
- While cookies are cooling, in a small bowl, stir together all the ingredients for your apricot jam filling.
- For the buttercream – In a large bowl cream the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add the treacle/ molasses, vanilla, liquid smoke and salt and beat to combine. Slowly add the icing sugar on low speed. Once it’s fully mixed in, increase the speed to medium/high and beat for another 5 minutes. You want it to be a fairly thick buttercream, so if it’s too thin or runny add a bit more icing sugar until desired thickness is achieved (that’s what she said 😉 ).
- Once the cookies are cooled, place apricot jam mixture in the dip you created in each cookie, then sandwich the cookies together with the smoked treacle/molasses buttercream.
- These cookies are also excellent as “open faced” cookies. If you don’t want the cookies to be as large as a sandwich cookie, just don’t sandwich them together (So fill the dip with jam mixture, and smooth a thick layer of frosting on top).