Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Molasses Spice Cutouts

*Recipe from The Complete Guide to Country Cooking

I promised some ladies from church this recipe at the end of 2007. Egads! Is it 2009 already?! I did take a picture of these week-old gingerbread people after they asked, but it's taken me a bit longer to actually post it.

They-- my friends from church, not the gingerbread people-- requested the recipe after exclaiming over the glorious, soft texture of these little cookies. I think the trick is the frosting, though. Any cookie will remain soft if it's frosted and then stored in an airtight container. If you want them to stay soft without frosting, you can try placing a piece of bread in the container with the cookies. The moisture from the bread will keep the cookies soft as the bread dries out.

I love molasses/gingerbread cookies, and these are no exception, but I usually cut the recipe in half because it makes so many.

1 cup butter, softened
1 and 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup light or dark molasses (I use unsulphured blackstrap molasses, which is healthier*, dark, and has a very strong flavor)
1/2 cup cold coffee
6 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
-I add the spices to taste, and I usually put in a pinch or two of ginger, too

*It makes these cookies healthy! (Or at least that's what I tell myself.)

I use a basic butter frosting recipe, like this one.

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar; beat in molasses and coffee. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt and spices; gradually add to molasses mixture and mix well. Chill dough for 1-2 hours or until easy to handle (I always cheat and put mine in the freezer so it's ready faster). If needed, add additional flour before rolling. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut with 2 and 1/2-inch cookie cutters dipped in flour. Place 1-in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes or until edges are firm and bottom is lightly browned. Do not overbake. Remove to wire racks to cook.

Yield: 7-8 dozen

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