Allspice, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg are familiar flavors. But when combined with honey and rye flour, they give cookies the depth and allure of pain d’épices, the Christmas bread of Dijon, France. Chilling the dough for as long as possible allows the flavors to develop and prevents the cookies from spreading during baking. An easy Grand Marnier glaze adds a sweet veneer and is practical as well, helping a garnish of candied orange peel to adhere.–Editors of Gourmet Magazine
LC Anticipating Your Craving Note
We know. Sometimes you find yourself gripped by an insatiable craving for pain d’épice cookies and there’s no continuing with life as you know it until the need is satisfied. Here’s the hitch. The simple dough with the complex flavor needs to be chilled for no fewer than 8 hours prior to baking to allow the flavors to meld, so you’re going to need to anticipate those cravings. Either that or keep some dough stashed in the freezer at all times.
Pain d’Épice Cookies Recipe
Hands-On Time: 1 hour | Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes, not including chilling | Makes about 80 cookies
- For the cookies
- 1 cup rye flour
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon grated or ground nutmeg
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon mild honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- For the glaze
- 4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- For the decoration
- Candied Orange Peel, cut into 1/4-inch dice
- Make the pain d’ épice cookies
- 1. Whisk together the flours, spices, and salt. In a separate bowl, beat together the butter, sugars, honey, and vanilla with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Reduce the speed to low and mix in the flour mixture until just combined. The dough will be sticky.
- 2. Roll out the dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper into a 10-inch square (about 1/4 inch thick) or place the dough in a large resealable plastic bag (not one with a pleated bottom) and smooth the dough with a rolling pin, filling the bag with the dough.
- 3. Place the dough (still on the parchment or in the bag) on a baking sheet and refrigerate for 8 to 12 hours to allow the flavors to develop.
- 4. Preheat the oven to 350°F (176° C), adjust the oven rack to the middle position.
- 5. Remove the top layer of parchment or remove the dough from the bag. Trim the ragged edges of the dough. Cut twenty 1/2-inch-wide strips with a pastry wheel and a ruler. Cut each strip crosswise into fourths for a total of 80 cookies. If the dough begins to soften, refrigerate or freeze it until firm.
- 6. Transfer about 30 cookies to to an ungreased baking sheet with a spatula, arranging them 1 inch apart. Keep the unbaked cookies in the refrigerator or freezer. If the cookies on sheet are no longer cold, chill or freeze until firm. Bake until the edges are several shades darker, 13 to 15 minutes. Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for 1 minute, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining cookies.
- Make the glaze
- 7. Whisk together all of the glaze ingredients until smooth.
- Decorate the pain d’épice cookies
- 8. Tip the bowl of glaze on its side so the glaze is as deep as possible. Place a folded kitchen towel under the bowl for support. Dip half of a cookie into the glaze on a diagonal, letting any excess glaze drip off into the bowl and then scraping the bottom of the cookie on the edge of the bowl to remove any last extra drops of glaze. Transfer the cookie to a rack set over a baking sheet and immediately place a piece of candied orange peel on the glazed half of the cookie. Repeat with the remaining cookies, glaze, and candied orange peel.
- 9. Let the cookies stand until completely set, about 1 hour. The cookies keep, layered between sheets of parchment paper in metal tins, at room temperature for up to 3 days.
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Pain d’Épice Cookies Recipe © 2010 Editors of Gourmet. Photo © 2010 Romulo Yanes. All rights reserved.