Moravian molasses spice cookies have a characteristic deep brown color and full-bodied flavor that's perfect for a Christmas tea or coffee gathering. These heirloom cookies are typical of those made by descendants of the Moravians who settled in the eastern United States, particularly in North Carolina. Moravia is a historic area located in the eastern part of the Czech Republic.
The unsulphured or robust flavor molasses gives these cookies their unique color and flavor. If you can’t find this type of molasses at the grocery store, check with the local health food store. The trick to making these crisp is to roll the dough as thin as possible. Chill the dough in between steps to make it easier to handle.
Moravian Molasses Spice Cookies
Specialty tools: Rolling pin; a 2 1/2-inch round fluted-edge cookie cutter or daisy-shaped cookie cutter
Preparation time: 4 hours; includes chilling
Baking time: 8 minutes
Yield: 4 to 5 dozen
1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, preferably freshly grated
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsulphured or robust flavor molasses
In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt.
Using a mixer, beat the butter in a large mixing bowl until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the brown sugar and mix together until smooth. Add the vanilla and molasses and beat until well blended. Form the dough into a disk and wrap tightly in plastic. Chill until firm, at least 3 hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Divide the dough into equal thirds. Work with one portion while keeping the others refrigerated.
Roll out each section of dough between sheets of floured wax paper until the dough sections are about 1/16-inch thin. Transfer the covered dough to a cookie sheet and chill in the freezer for 15 minutes. Gently peel off both pieces of wax paper. Use a 2-1/2-inch round fluted-edge cutter or daisy-shaped cutter to cut out shapes. Transfer the shapes to the cookie sheet, leaving 1 inch between them.
Bake for 8 minutes. Remove the cookie sheet from the oven and transfer the cookies from the parchment paper to cooling racks. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a month. Freeze for longer storage.