Sugar & Spice Holiday Cookies

The holidays are fast approaching and all we want to do is hibernate with our new kittens and eat cookies. Fortunately, we’re wise enough to know that when we make batches of things like cookies, brownies, blondies, and other goodies, we either need to give them away, or freeze them and eat them judiciously throughout their lives (we rarely have frost bitten treats).

Gingerbread is classically Christmas. The warmth of ginger and the earthiness of the molasses are ideal for warming you up. While looking for gingerbread inspiration, we came across this nice, lightly spiced cookie recipe from King Arthur. Short a few of the ingredients, but adequately supplied with substitutes – like honey for molasses, coconut oil for shortening, and a little white whole wheat flour in place of the all-purpose – to make them “healthy” sugar cookies – we decide to jump into the recipe.

Day-light savings time really sucks when you’re an afternoon baker attempting to make anything you might want to photograph. This recipe was no exception. At 4:00pm, with less than an hour of sunlight left on a gloomy SF afternoon, we got started. The dough needs to rest in the fridge so after Jason got Steve’s afternoon cookie and tea hopes up, we had to wait another day so that we could capture the finished product in daylight.

A quick and easy smear of chocolate (dark and white) makes for a delicious finishing touch. And be sure to dunk them in your favorite warm beverage. They’re extra delicious after a quick soak in coffee and tea.

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Sugar and Spice Cookies
Adapted from King Arthur flour.

1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) butter
1/2 cup coconut oil
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice or ground cloves
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
2 tablespoons honey
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
3 tablespoons cornstarch

In a medium-sized bowl, beat together the butter, shortening, sugars, baking powder, spices, and salt until light and fluffy.

Add the egg and molasses, and beat well.

Mix about half of the flour into the butter mixture. When well combined, add the cornstarch and the remaining flour.

Divide the dough in thirds, flattening each half slightly to make a disk. Smooth the edges by rolling the disk along a lightly floured work surface. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 1 hour (or longer), for easiest rolling.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Take one piece of dough out of the refrigerator, and flour a clean work surface, and the dough.

Roll it out as thin or thick as you like. For slightly less crisp cookies, roll it out more thickly. We like to roll these cookies 1/8″ to 1/4″inch thick. Use powdered sugar under and on top of the dough to keep it from sticking to the table or rolling pin.

Alternatively, place the dough on parchment, and put a sheet of plastic wrap or another piece of parchment over it as you roll, pulling the plastic or parchment to eliminate wrinkles as necessary when rolling; this will keep dough from sticking without the need for additional flour.

Transfer the cookies to parchment-lined or silpat baking sheets.

Bake them just until they’re slightly brown around the edges, or until they feel firm, about 8 to 12 minutes, depending on the size and thickness.

Remove the cookies from the oven, and let them cool on the baking sheet for several minutes, or until they’re set. Transfer them to a rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Food for thought.

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