Makes 4 dozen
Christmas may have officially passed, but there’s always room for cookies. Today I’d like to share a recipe from a close friend and one of my favourite people with whom to enjoy a good meal, Alana. Unfortunately those meals are few and far between, as she lives some 5,000km away in Toronto.
In the seven years we have been living in Vancouver, our trips back to Ontario always kick off with a greeting from Alana at Toronto’s Pearson Airport. Her trusty old Buick, Roberta, is the best airport limousine one could ever hope for, and her cozy, historic apartment in the city’s West End has become like a second home to us. Christmastime is especially enjoyable at Alana’s, bursting with festivity from the comforting pine scent of her Christmas tree, the mistletoe hanging in her doorway, and the aroma of her incredible fresh baking.
Though we sadly did not get to see Alana this Christmas, we were fortunate to spend some time with her during our visit home this past October. When we arrived in the wee hours of the morning we gladly devoured far too many of these cookies – and I wasn’t leaving without the recipe.
There are dozens of recipes for spice cookies out there, but few achieve the sought-after characteristics of a crisp, cracked exterior with a chewy centre; accompanied by the bold flavour of molasses and subtle but sharp kick of spice. It’s no wonder this recipe in particular has hit the mark on all of the above characteristics, as it comes from The New Best Recipe, Revised Edition, from the editors of Cooks Illustrated. Not only did I get the recipe for the cookies before I left after our visit back in October, but we found the book itself under our tree a few days ago. At some 900 pages, this book is an excellent and comprehensive culinary reference for any cook, new or experienced.
Thank you Alana!
- 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 ½ tsp each, ground cinnamon and ginger
- ½ tsp ground cloves
- ¼ tsp each, ground black pepper, allspice, and salt
- 12 tbsp (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened (room temperature)
- 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar, plus ½ cup for rolling (optional)
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ cup dark molasses (not blackstrap)
- 1 cup icing sugar
- 2-3 tbsp dark rum
Preheat oven to 375°F.
In a medium bowl, combine flour and spices. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine butter, brown sugar, and 1/3 cup granulated sugar. Using an electric mixer or wooden spoon, beat until light and creamy. Add egg yolk and vanilla and beat briefly to combine. Beat in molasses at a low speed, until completely incorporated. Finally, add the flour/spice mixture. Beat until just combined, scraping the sides to ensure all flour is evenly incorporated.
Place remaining ½ cup sugar in a small, but wide, bowl to facilitate easy rolling.
For larger cookies (about two dozen) measure dough into heaping tablespoons; for smaller cookies (four-five dozen) portion dough with a heaped teaspoon and roll into balls between your hands*. I personally prefer to make smaller cookies, including them in assorted homemade cookie boxes as gifts during the holidays, as pictured below.
Regardless of which size you prefer, gently toss the completed dough balls in the sugar and place them on a lined baking sheet about two inches apart.
Bake cookies in the oven for 10-11 minutes. When finished they should have a cracked surface, but still appear slightly raw. Do not worry, as they will continue to cook and set when removed from the oven. Allow cookies to cool completely before glazing.
For the rum glaze, stir icing sugar and rum together in a small bowl. The consistency should be thick, but runny – perfect for drizzling.
With cookies still on the parchment lined baking sheet, dip a fork or spoon into the rum glaze and drizzle over the cookies in a rough cross-hatch pattern (see photos) until desired effect is achieved. Allow glaze to set for 10-15 minutes before serving/storing. These cookies keep well in a Tupperware container in the freezer – pull out as needed or desired.
*You may wish to keep a bowl of warm water nearby in which to dip your hands and prevent the dough from sticking.
Recipe from The New Best Recipe, Revised Edition