This recipe is from Cooks Illustrated magazine. I may have altered it slightly, but I don’t remember. There are a few helpful dough handling suggestions on my post about the “most fantastic baking tool ever“.
Serving Size: 50, depending on size of cookies
3 cups flour
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup unsalted butter, slightly softened
3/4 cup unsulphured molasses
2 tablespoons milk
In food processor, process flour, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, salt and baking soda until combined, about 10 seconds. Scatter butter pieces over flour mixture and process until mixture is sandy and resembles very fine meal, about 15 seconds. With machine running, gradually add molasses and milk. Process until evenly moistened and forms a soft mass, about 10 seconds. Scrape dough on to work surface. Divide in four. Roll each portion of dough to 1/8″ thick between two large sheets of parchment paper. Leaving between parchment layers, stack on cookie sheet and freeze 20 minutes (Or refrigerate overnight and freeze before use.)
Place oven racks in positions 2 and 5 and preheat oven to convection 315 degrees (with fabulous Wolf oven). For other ovens try 325 degrees with rack in the middle. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Remove one dough to counter and place on work surface. Peel off top parchment and gently lay it back in place. Flip dough over. Peel off second parchment layer. Put back in freezer for a few minutes. Cut dough into shapes, transferring shapes to parchment-lined cookie sheets with wide spatula, spacing them 1/2 inch apart. Work very quickly as dough softens immediately. Bake cookies until slightly darkened and firm in center when pressed with finger, about 6 – 7 minutes. Remove to rack and cool. Gather scraps from all the sheets and repeat rolling. By not adding extra flour, the cookies don’t get tough. Even the scraps left at the end can be baked and will be delicious. Also they make very interesting shapes that are fun to try to identify.
For thick and chewy cookies, divide the dough in 2, and roll 1/4″ thick. Increase heat to 350 degrees and bake until set in centers and dough barely retains an imprint when touched very gently with your fingertip, 8 – 11 minutes. Do not overbake.
If you want to decorate the cookies, I’d suggest mixing up a batch of Royal Icing. Lois and I like to pipe the cookies with white icing and sprinkle liberally with colored sugar. I’m not a big fan of Royal Icing, but nothing says Christmas cookie like a sparkly iced cookie.
- 5 tablespoons meringue powder (egg white powder)
- 6 tablespoons water
- 1 pound confectioners’ sugar (about 3 3/4 to 4 cups or 1 box)
- Food coloring, if desired
Combine all the ingredients, except the food coloring, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix slowly until stiff enough to form peaks. The icing should be pure white and thick, but not fluffy and bubbly. If the frosting is over beaten, it will get aerated which makes it harder to work with. If this happens, let the frosting sit to settle, then use a rubber spatula to vigorously beat and smooth out the frosting.
Store icing, covered, with plastic film on the surface of the icing.
Yield: 1 pound royal icing (1 2/3 cup)