A Southern Grace: poor mary jane

December 2, 2013

poor mary jane


It's a shame that such a lovely name for a little girl has somehow managed to have some negative connotations. Let's focus on the positive, shall we?

There's a terrific Tom Petty song about her (which will inevitably get stuck in your head and, incidentally, makes a great karaoke selection), and she has some pretty cute shoes named after her as well (though I'm not convinced I can pull them off).

Did you ever try the Mary Janes from Necco? It's a peanut butter and molasses candy that's probably pretty tasty. I wouldn't know because for some reason, when I was little, I can remember picking every single one out of my Halloween bag and putting them in the will-not-eat pile. I think my brother probably told me they were gross so I automatically crossed them off. I'm not sure they're even made anymore, but if I could find them, I'd happily give them a try.

Yep, as it turns out, peanut butter and molasses pair beautifully. In these particular cookies, the dominating flavor is peanut butter, but there's definitely some molasses in the background and it contributes to some excellent sweetness and chewiness. As someone who doesn't really like the taste of molasses but digs peanut butter, I really enjoyed these cookies. However, folks who feel the opposite will probably be satisfied too--it's a nice balance. They're aptly named, as they're neither cakey nor crispy but perfectly chewy. And hey--that coating of sugar is not to be skipped, so don't even think about it.

Mary Jane Shoes Chews
From The All-American Cookie Book
Makes 40-45
  • 2-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1-3/4 cups dark brown sugar, packed
  • 3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened
  • 2/3 cup smooth or crunchy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 large eggs
  • Granulated sugar, for rolling
  1. In a medium bowl, thoroughly stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat together the brown sugar, butter, peanut butter, shortening and molasses until well blended and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the eggs and beat until very well blended and smooth.
  4. Beat in half of the flour mixture until evenly incorporated.
  5. Stir or beat in the rest of the flour mixture until evenly incorporated.
  6. Refrigerate the dough for at least 1-1/2 hours or up to 12 hours, or until firmed up.
  7. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease several baking sheets or coat with nonstick spray.
  8. Shape portions of the dough into generous 1-1/4-inch balls with lightly greased hands.
  9. Roll the balls through a bowl of granulated sugar so they're coated, then place the balls on the baking sheets, spacing about 2-3/4 inches apart. Using your palm, press down on the balls until the tops are just flattened.
  10. Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, in the upper third of the oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until tinged with brown and just barely set when pressed in the centers. Reverse the sheet from front to back halfway through baking to ensure even browning.
  11. Transfer the sheet to a wire rack and let stand until the cookies firm up slightly, 1 to 2 minutes. Using a spatula, transfer the cookies to wire racks.
  12. Let stand until completely cooled.


Alicia Foodycat said...

I like peanut butter and I like molasses, so this seems good.

Beth said...

I love the idea of pairing molasses with peanut butter! And you've given me a new song to look up. I don't know "Mary Jane", but I will soon.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Lovely cookies! addictive I'm sure.



Leslie Anne Tarabella said...

Our family makes our own cane syrup that is very thick like molasses. I wonder if that would work. And I'm getting to be pretty innocent. I was only thinking of the shoes!

Jackie@Syrup and Biscuits said...

I keep a bottle of molasses in my pantry since I make my own brown sugar now. This looks like a great use of molasses. Thanks, Grace! I will give it a try.

Rosita Vargas said...

Galletas lindas y crujientes de manì me llevo varias para mi desayuno,abrazos.

Pam said...

I love peanut butter and molasses cookies so I am sure I will love these beauties! Bookmarked.

Angie's Recipes said...

We love peanut butter! These cookies look perfectly chewy and tasty.

Gloria Baker said...

just beautiful Grace, love these!

lisa is cooking said...

I love molasses, but I don't think I've ever combined it with peanut butter. I need to try this!

Betty said...

I love Mary Janes (the candy) but never thought of them in cookie form. Must try!

Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic said...

I don't think I've tried the Mary Jane candies, but I do have Mary Jane shoes (the pointy stiletto kind) and I bet I would like these Mary Jane chews :)

Big Rigs 'n Lil' Cookies said...

I have never heard of Mary Jane's candy before... Where have I been? I have never thought of combining peanut butter and molasses in a cookie, but I am intrigued and think I must try this!

Blond Duck said...

I'm intrigued!

Joanne said...

Plus poor Mary Jane also had a nickname for marijuana named after her...so it's no wonder she's got a bad rep!

Unknown said...

Mmm, plan on trying these on for size (lol) tomorrow. Do you just roll in white sugar before flattening on the baking sheet?

grace said...

@Patricia Bacon: yes! i forgot to write that step out, but i've fixed it now. :)

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

I just made PB cookies but I must admit that I only know of Mary Janes as shoes!

Caroline Taylor said...

These sound great. I bet the sugar coating makes a really nice texture.

Hungry Dog said...

I like the Tom Petty song, have worn the shoes, but always loathed the candy. These cookies look pretty delicious, though. Will have to give them a go.

pam said...

I love peanut butter and molasses and Mary Janes - the shoes - are my favorites!

~~louise~~ said...

I never ate those Mary Jane's in my Halloween bag either Grace. I'm not sure why but I think it had something to do with that ugly colored wrapper. (ugly at the time anyway:) As for Mary Jane shoes, well, those days are certainly gone. Although, my eleven year old granddaughter thinks they are simply IT!

I'd be willing to give these Mary Jane cookies a try though. Tastes changes you know and at this moment, peanut butter and molasses sound quite like a pair of goodness. I wouldn't dream of skipping the sugar:)

Thanks for sharing, Grace. So, which came first, the cookies, the candy, or the shoes???

I Wilkerson said...

Two of my favorite cookie flavors so I'd probably love them. I'll be doing a rye flour molasses cookie soon.

Nutmeg Nanny said...

Yum, I am loving this flavor combinations :) can't wait to taste this!