Sometimes it is fun to just try substitutions in recipes to see if it will work. I had most of the ingredients I would need for a batch of my Spicy Molasses Cookies-, see recipe here, towards the end of the page, section G8.4.2, https://effectivecare.info/g8-cookies-%26-bean-soup but not everything. I was also curious with how pomegranate extract would effect the taste or texture. I had extra almond meal and coconut flour but no coconut oil so the experiment is also a trial run on an oil free version. The coconut flour and almond meal are oil/fat containing ingredients but they are dry so extra moisture was needed – quite a bit extra it turned out but it also turned into a double batch.
They are tangy with a slight fruit taste along with the strong molasses and spicy ginger and cardamom flavors. Blackstrap molasses is a good source of iron which makes the cookies more nutritious than typical cookies but can also make it better not to overeat – a half dozen is better than a dozen. Cookies are good and now I know that Gumbo File will work as an egg substitute if necessary. The cookies aren’t crumbly which is the risk if eggs are forgotten altogether but the Golden Flax Meal may have helped more with the leavening- supporting air bubbles but so many changes were made that more trial vetsions would be needed to see how the Gumbo File works in baking. It does have a little flavor and greenish color (ground Sassafras Leaves) which is not noticeable with the molasses. It might not be noticeable in a chocolate recipe either. Sassafras Leaves may have helpful phytonutrients in addition to the intestinal health friendly emulsifying mucilaginous fiber content. I used the ratio I’ve been using with Golden Flax Meal, but I only used as much as I would have put in a single batch so maybe doubling it would have helped them leaven better they stayed the same size as they were when I shaped the dough:
Roughly, meaning not exact measurements, this is a first draft batch, I included:
Dry ingredients, mix in a large bowl:
- 2 cups Brown Rice Flour
- 2 cups Coconut Flour
- 2 cups Almond Meal
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 3/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
- 1 teaspoon Cardamom Powder
Wet ingredients, heat gently stir in emulsifier and stir until thickened and then add molasses and brown sugar.
- 1 1/2 cup Pomegranate Extract
- 3 tablespoons Gumbo File Powder (traditionally used in Creole cooking, initially used by Native Americans, also known as Choctaw spice, link, it is an emulsifier though and I was out of ground golden flax meal which I’ve been using as an egg replacer. See below for more health information about Sassafras Leaves.)
- 1 cup Blackstrap Molasses
- 1 cup Brown Sugar
- 4 rounded tablespoons minced Candied Ginger
- When mixing the emulsified sugar solution into the dry ingredients I wasn’t sure how much additional liquid would be needed without the coconut oil ingredient. I eventually mixed in about 2 cups of Pomegranate Juice plus one more 1/2 cup of plain water. The dough should be soft and slightly sticky rather than crumble. The cookies took a little longer to bake and didn’t rise much/expand into a larger dome shape.
Gumbo File is the Acadian name for a powdered preparation of dried Sassafras Leaves that was used by Native Americans and was commonly known as the Choctaw Spice. It was widely used for a portion of the U.S. history and became the second largest export with tobacco being the largest export crop in the 17th century. It became less popular in the 20th century when it was discovered that a chemical, safrole in the essential oil of the tree bark and sassafras root was cancerogenic. Gumbo File is still healthy though because it does not contain as much of the chemical. Beneficial nutrients include the terpenes, myrcene and linalool, which both have anti-inflammatory benefits and sedative (sleep inducing) effects and myracene may also help reduce pain (analgesic). It has been traditionally thought to be helpful to prevent kidney stones from forming, and it may be due to a diuretic effect. It also is thought to help reduce high blood pressure and relieve arthritis pain. [link]
The amount typically used in a soup or stew is far less than the amount I used in this cookie recipe as an egg replacer. Only a half teaspoon to a teaspoon tends to be added to a batch of soup, best added at the end of the cooking time, it thickens the broth slightly to a creamier texture but can become more gelatinous (slimy/shiny/sticky) if overcooked. The three tablespoons dissolved in a cup and a half of liquid made a gelatinous thickened mixture that was more of a thick gravy texture with a shiny, thicker in places texture. It mixed into the cookie dough easily though.
Tapioca starch also produces a shiny gelatinous effect in gravy or fruit sauces compared to corn starch. Once chilled it makes a ‘resistant starch’ [resistant starch, definitive guide] that is turned into other beneficial nutrients in our digestive system by some types of beneficial bacteria. I’m not sure if the Gumbo File starch is similar to tapioca starch in ‘resistant starch’ content.
Root beer is named after the sassafras root which was the traditional way the beverage was made. Now Root Beer that is still made with actual Sassafras Root uses root that has the safrole oil extracted. Sassafras root tea tastes like Root Beer. The ground dried leaves are described as tasting like the herbs thyme or savory, or slightly like Root Beer or eucalyptus. [link] I can confirm that the root makes a Root Beer flavor as I’ve tried a tea made with actual dug up in the forest Sassafras root. It was a tree commonly found in my backyard and surrounding woods as a child. The tree leaves are interesting as they have different shapes – a right and left mitten shape and a mitten with two thumbs and as a plain oval shape (Sassafras Leaves, images).
So cookies with an anti-inflammatory benefit – I did feel sleepy this afternoon after making them however and only added this interesting section on the health benefits of Gumbo File after waking up. – Note to self – do not eat these cookies while driving. Bedtime cookies – yum!
They may also have anti-cancer benefits due to the Sassafras plant being part of the cinnamomum/camphor plant family. Cinnamon phytonutrients include aldehydes which in addition to terpenes an other types of phytonutrients can promote the production of the NRF2 gene and protein which has many roles in the immune system including anti-cancer benefits. (“Cinnamomum – camphor plants (including cinnamon, Cinnamomum Kennedy, hairy leaves camphor, linalyl burmannii, sassafras) “”  sassafras aboveground 5kg, pulverized and extracted…to obtain cinnamon plant extracts 412g, a yield of 8.24%” – https://patents.google.com/patent/CN103520279B/en)
Disclosure: This information is being provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of Fair Use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health care guidance. Please see an individual health care professional for individualized health care guidance.