These spicy snowflake cookies call for cloves, cinnamon, and ginger for a bit of spice in each bite. Christmas cookies that are as dramatic as they are delicious.
These classic Christmas cookies, just like the winter cold, are ever so slightly like a light slap in the face from all the spices. In the most inviting possible way. Sorta like waking you up. Not just to their flavor. To the magic of the season. –Renee Schettler Rossi
LC Cookie Decorating Diva Note
We confess. We didn’t decorate that stunning snowflake cookie, that’s for darn sure. If you’re seeking some expert advice, we suggest you take a cue from Tish Boyle. You can sample her style by taking a look at the decorating instructions in her recipe at Tish Boyle’s Snowflake Cookies. And be patient with yourself. If yours don’t appear exactly as hers, bear in mind, they shouldn’t. After all, no two snowflakes are alike.
Spicy Snowflake Cookies
- 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
- 1/3 cup light brown sugar packed
- 1/2 cup unsulphured molasses such as Grandma’s brand
- 1 1/4 cups spooned and leveled all-purpose flour plus more for the work surface
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
- Nonstick cooking spray (optional)
- In a large bowl, beat the shortening and sugar with a standing or handheld electric mixer until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the molasses and beat, scraping the sides of the bowl, until well blended, about 1 minute.
- In another large bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, cloves, cinnamon, and ginger. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the molasses mixture and blend on the lowest speed. Add another third and blend, and then add the final third and blend. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and leave on the counter overnight. (Letting the dough stand overnight allows the moisture to be evenly spread, which in turn ensures there are no wet spots that stick to the rolling pin or work surface and also that there are no dry spots that tear. This is vital for a crisp cookie which requires that the dough be rolled as thinly as this one.)
- Preheat the oven to 325°F (163°C). Adjust the oven rack to the center of the oven.
- On a lightly floured work surface, take about 1/3 of the dough and shape it into an 8-inch disc about 1 inch thick. Keep the rest of the cookie dough tightly covered. If the disc of dough is sticky, use a large, lightly floured flour sack towel as a surface to roll out the dough or simply roll the dough between a couple large sheets of plastic wrap. You want to use only the smallest amount of flour possible as you roll the dough to keep the dough from sticking. This takes practice. Ideally you’ll roll the cookie dough to 1/8 inch thickness. The closer the dough is to 1/8 inch, the less it spreads when rolled, which makes it ideal for intricate cut-out cookies to retain their shape when baked.
- Cover a baking sheet with Silpat or parchment sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Cut the cookies with a 2 1/2-inch cookie cutter and place on the baking sheet, about 1 inch apart. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until edges just begin to color. (The longer you bake the cookies, the crisper they become. Our findings were that at 8 minutes the cookies are chewy, at 10 minutes sorta chewy in the center and crisp at the edges, and at 12 minutes crisp throughout. Follow your heart.)
- Transfer the Silpat or parchment and the cookies to a wire rack to cool for 2 minutes, then transfer the cookies sans Silpat or parchment to a rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
These cookies are perfect! Crisp and crunchy with a nice bite from the spices. The equal amount of spice results in a wonderfully balanced cookie with notes of ginger, cinnamon, and cloves in every bite. It’s hard to stop at just one. I love all things ginger.
I left the dough on the counter overnight wrapped in plastic. The next day I divided the dough into thirds and started rolling. I used 2 pieces of plastic wrap to roll out the dough as I didn’t have a flour sack. This worked well to keep the dough smooth and I was able to tell easily when it was the right thickness. I cut out 46 cookies that were 2 1/2 inches.
Heady with holiday spice, these spicy snowflake cookies perfume the air with Christmas.
While my star cutouts were softer-edged than the recipe photograph, I was happy with the flavor. After rolling the dough, I let it cool in the refrigerator so it was easier to handle. The cookie was chewy when I baked it for 8 minutes, slightly less chewy at 10 minutes, and crisp at 12 minutes. I liked the crisp results best.
I was drawn to this spicy snowflake cookies recipe more for the “spicy” than the “snowflake.” My husband just loves spice cookies of all sorts. But there were two problems. One is that we are, by necessity, a gluten-free household. So if I wanted to try these cookies, I would have to adapt. I did this by substituting a gluten-free flour blend for the AP flour. I used one that is a mix of brown rice flour, sweet rice flour, and tapioca starch. I measured out the weight given in the recipe, which turned out to be just about exactly the cup measure given for AP flour.
My next problem was that I do not own a snowflake cookie cutter of any kind, much less one as intricate at shown in the photo. My solution to this was just to cut the cookies in whatever shapes made me happy. Which turned out to be chicken and pig shapes.
After the required resting time, the dough rolled out beautifully with a minimal amount of flour. I didn’t use a pastry cloth; I just rolled them out on a wooden board with a bit of flour sprinkled on it. My first sheet pan’s worth were the chicken-shaped cookies, and I cooked them for 10 minutes. The felt still soft coming out of the oven, but firmed up perfectly following the directions for cooling them given in the recipe. The next batch, pigs, were a bit smaller, and since the pan was already warm, I cooked them 8 minutes. There was almost no spreading with these cookies. I some where part of a cookie was within 1/4 inch of its neighbor, and none came close to spreading into each other. The detailed parts of the cookies (the little pigs’ ears and chicken beaks) came out clean and well-defined. I’ve no doubt that this dough would work well with a more intricate cutter. Who knows, maybe there are snowflakes in my future?
Of course, a dough that rolls out well and keeps an intricate shape is still only worthwhile if the cookie tastes good. And these cookies delivered on the flavor. My husband, the spice cookie connoisseur, loved them. Just like the headnote says, they have a little bit of a spicy heat to them that lingers in the finish. The molasses gives the cookies just a bit of chewiness—these aren’t your crumbly sugar cookies. All in all, a lovely holiday cookie that will be part of my repertoire from now on.
Originally published December 14, 2018