15 December 2011

Moravian Spice Cookies

Christmas is coming.  Time to bake cookies!  It might be more of an American tradition to bake loads of cookies around the holidays, but my mates over here don't seem to mind.

Might I suggest some soft oatmeal cookies with fresh cranberries?  Or, perhaps, some homemade oreos?  Snickerdoodles?

This Moravian spice cookie is amazing, like super-thin-snappy-wafers-of-awesomeness.  The flavours are strong and perfect at this time of year.  It's not easy to find molasses in Britain, so I've used black treacle, which might make them even better. They're crispy and crunchy, and amazing when eaten with coffee and vanilla ice cream.

What are your favourite Christmas cookie recipes?

Moravian Spice Cookies
modified from Gourmet
This makes a ton of cookies, over 100, if cut in 2-inch rounds.

1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup black treacle (traditionally, molasses is used, but good luck finding that outside America)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda (bicarbonate)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt

Pulse shortening, brown sugar, and treacle in a food processor until smooth.  I don't have a food processor, so I used a spoon.  It wasn't fun.

Meanwhile, whisk together flour, baking soda, spices, and salt. Add to processor and blend just until combined.

Turn out dough onto a floured surface and knead briefly, allowing dough to absorb a little more flour if sticky. Divide dough in half and form each half into a ball. Wrap each in plastic wrap and chill at least 1 day.

Preheat oven to 170°C/325°F with rack in middle. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Roll out a bit of dough, 1/2 or 1/3 of a ball, on a piece of foil until very thin (less than 1/16 inch thick). Cut out shapes with cookie cutters and stick in the freezer for 2 minutes.  This will allow you to get the thin, sticky discs off the foil with ease and without allowing them to become misshapen.  Arrange about 1/2 inch apart on baking sheets.

Bake cookies 10 minutes (or less if your oven is fan-assisted, like mine -- they took 4 minutes). Let stand 1 minute on sheet, then loosen with spatula and transfer to cooling rack. If first batch isn’t crisp, bake 1 minute more (on baking sheet), minute-by-minute until they are crisp.  Careful not to burn, since they are dark cookies it's hard to tell so watch closely.

Re-roll scraps and repeat until you have enough cookies to feed an army.

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