Coming from the culinary traditions of members of the Moravian church in Pennsylvania that settled in the Winston-Salem area of North Carolina in 1753, these spicy Moravian molasses cookies are a traditional Christmas cookie. You may be familiar with them if you've ever received a gift basket with a tube of these delicately thin cookies made by the Salem Baking Company.
Moravian molasses cookies are basically an ultra-thin and crispy, ramped up ginger bread cookie. And they're too good to be retired.Baking notes:
- Unable to find a scallop-edged cookie cutter to replicate the classic Moravian molasses cookie shape, I've been using a tee-tiny tart pan for many years now. Make any shape you wish, though.
- The thinner you roll the cookie dough (try for at least 1/8-inch), the crisper the cookie will be. The longer you bake the cookies (but don't burn them), the crisper the cookie will be. You're aiming for thin and crispy. About half of mine end up crispy on the edges, and a tad chewy in the middle. I'm not perfect. And the chewy cookies are just as tasty.
- It is possible to roll the dough thinner by rolling smaller portions of the dough between plastic wrap, but it is nearly impossible to transfer the cookie to the baking sheet without ripping the dough. Try it if you're fabulous.
makes about 40 cookies
1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup molasses
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
- Sift together flour, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, cardamom, and baking soda in a bowl.
- In a large bowl, add molasses, vegetable shortening, brown sugar, and vanilla, and mix with an electric mixer until incorporated.
- Gradually add flour mixture to molasses mixture, then knead until thoroughly incorporated.
- Wrap dough in platic wrap and refrigerate for at least three hours, or overnight.
- Remove dough from refigerator, unwrap, and roll out as thin as possible (at least 1/8-inch thickness) on a floured surface, picking up dough and adding more flour to surface to prevent sticking when needed.
- Cut cookies and place 1-inch apart on a greased baking sheet (a spatula is really going to help you lift the cookies and transfer them to the baking sheet).
- Bake in a preheated 300 degree oven for 6-8 minutes, one sheet at a time.