Chuck's Molasses Cookies
These spicy cookies are perfect for the holidays. Cut into festive shapes, the cookies can be artfully decorated with royal icing, sugars and dragées.
For best results when using more detailed cutters, roll out the cookie dough directly on a Silpat-lined cookie sheet. Remove the excess dough from around the cutouts, wrap the dough and refrigerate. Bake the cookies as instructed. Repeat with the reserved dough.
For the cookies:
- 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 2 tsp. ground ginger
- 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp. ground allspice
- 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 12 Tbs. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room
- 3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
- 1/4 cup light molasses
For the royal icing:
- 10 oz. (about 2 1/4 cups) confectioners' sugar,
- 2 egg whites
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
- Food coloring
- Colored sugars and decorating pens
Have all the ingredients at room temperature.
To make the cookies, over a sheet of waxed paper, sift together the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, cloves and salt; sift two more times and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter and brown sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 4 minutes, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the egg yolks and molasses and continue beating until blended, 1 to 2 minutes more, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Reduce the speed to low, add the flour mixture and beat until just blended and no lumps of flour remain.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, shape it into a ball and divide into 4 equal portions. Shape each portion into a 5-inch disk. Wrap separately with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat an oven to 375°F. Lightly grease 2 baking sheets.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out a dough disk to 1/4-inch thickness. Using cookie cutters, cut out cookies and transfer to the prepared baking sheets. Gather the scraps of dough into a ball and continue rolling out the dough and cutting out cookies.
Bake until the cookies are lightly browned around the edges, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks and let cool for 5 minutes. Using a spatula, transfer the cookies to the racks and let cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough.
To make the royal icing, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the confectioners' sugar, egg whites, vanilla and cream of tartar on high speed until the mixture is glossy and stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes. It is best to use the frosting immediately.
To tint the icing with food coloring, use a toothpick to apply a tiny bit of color at a time. You can always add more. Beat in the color until evenly dispersed. Decorate the cookies as desired with royal icing, colored sugars and decorating pens. Makes 10 to 20 cookies, depending on cutter size.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Library Series, Cookies & Biscotti, by Kristine Kidd (Time-Life Books, 1993).