fat free opinions on a food centric life

Spiced Sugar Cookies

I’m late, I’m late, for a very important date.  No time to say “hello,” “goodbye,” I’m late, I’m late, I’m late, I’m late…and if I could find my head, I’d scratch it and say that, sure.  I feel a bit like Alice in Wonderland, sitting here in a house shrouded in plastic.  I left early this morning, knowing that primer would be going up today, and when I returned, the painters were still busy, so I spent time on my patio trimming bushes, cutting trees, and raking leaves until they were done for the day.  Before they left, I was asked if we were sleeping here tonight.  Um, yes? The guy told me to “swish” the plastic our bed is wrapped and attached to the floor in.  Swish?

Ah…adventure.  Life is certainly never dull.

Last night after they left, I got out the dough I’d made the day before for Gourmet’s Favorite cookie from 1946:  Moravian White Christmas Cookies.  I’d nibbled on enough of the dough when I made it to know that it was wonderful so couldn’t wait to make the cookies.  I love sugar cookies and have a favorite recipe which will never be replaced, but this is a close second.

I’ll confess that I had to do some research to locate Moravia, which is in the Czech Republic, very close to the borders of Slovakia, Austria, and Germany.

If the guys asking, “Can we eat one yet?” is any indication of this recipe’s promise, then I’d say they’re worth trying.  The scent while they’re baking is absolutely wonderful.

Spiced Sugar Cookie Snowflakes

Here’s the recipe as printed at Gourmet

We thought we knew Moravians; the dark, spicy thins are a Christmas
classic. But this light-colored version is a nice change of pace,
scented with cinnamon and nutmeg, with a nip of Sherry in the dough to
round out the flavor’s almost suggestive of eggnog.

This is just one of Gourmet‘s Favorite Cookies: 1941-2008.
Although we’ve retested the recipes, in the interest of authenticity
we’ve left them unchanged: The instructions below are still exactly as
they were originally printed.

Cream 1 cup butter, add 2 cups sugar gradually, and cream the
mixture until it is light. Add 4 well-beaten eggs and beat the whole
thoroughly. Sift 3 cups flour with 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon
cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, and add it alternately with 2
tablespoons sherry. Add sufficient flour, 1 to 2 cups, to stiffen the
dough. Chill for several hours. Roll the chilled dough extremely thin
and cut it out with cookie cutters in star, diamond, or heart shapes.
Put them on a greased baking sheet and bake in a hot oven (450 F.) for
about 7 minutes.


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My Usual Notes:

  • I made half of the recipe, using 1 additional cup of flour where the recipe reads, “add sufficient flour…”  The dough does become more firm, but will still be very soft.
  • I used 1 T of Alvear Pedro Ximenez de Auada 2000 for the sherry.  It’s a fairly heady dessert wine from Spain that is part of my cooking stash.  It was recommended to accompany a very rich chocolate dessert we love.  Unfortunately, none of us could handle more than a sip or two.  Now that it’s been sitting for a few years, it’s mellowed and the flavor is amazing — especially in egg nog.  Oh, my. But that’s a whole different story, isn’t it?
  • You absolutely must refrigerate this dough overnight.  Take it from the fridge and between layers of plastic wrap, roll it to about 1/16-inch.  Cut the shapes, making sure to press all the way through.  Wiggle the cutter a bit.  Do not remove the shapes yet.  Recover with plastic and transfer to a baking sheet and put in the freezer if you can.  If not, then the fridge will have to do.  Once the dough is firm, peel away the top layer of plastic and quickly peel away the excess dough, leaving the cut out shapes.  Leaving the shapes on the plastic, invert onto a parchment lined baking pan, peel away the plastic and put in the oven.
  • Even at 5 minutes, the cookies darken, so stand there and keep an eye on them.
  • I usually make my cookies one day and then settle in to decorate the next day, but clearly, this year, that wasn’t going to happen.  It’s worth it to do it on separate days because the cookies can be incredibly beautiful with lots of patience.
  • Here is the recipe for the icing.  I decorated mine with Martha’s inedible dragees, edible pearls I found in a shop in Ohio while on my visit with Lis & Helen, and some irridescent glitter flakes.
  • These cookies are perfect ornament cookies.  Just make sure you create a hole in the cut out before you bake the cookies so you can thread some ribbon through it.

Don’t forget to visit the rest of our cookie crew testing Gourmet’s favorite cookies:  Andrea of Andrea’s Recipes, Claire of The Barefoot Kitchen, Sandy of At the Baker’s Bench, Courtney of Coco Cooks, Judy of No Fear Entertaining, and Jerry of Cooking by the Seat of My Pants.  I know they’ve got something delicious just waiting for you!