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Spice Cutout Cookies


For the cookies

4 green cardamom pods

3 black peppercorns

2 whole cloves

1 whole allspice berry

1/2 star anise

1/4 tsp. whole coriander seeds

2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 tsp. baking soda

3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup molasses

1 large egg


For decorating

2 cups confectioner’s sugar

1/4 cup lemon juice

2 tbs. water, more as needed

India Tree Nature’s Colors food coloring

India Tree Nature’s Colors Decorating Sugars



1. In an electric coffee grinder, finely grind the cardamom, cloves, allspice, anise, and coriander. Sift the spices through a medium mesh sieve into a medium bowl to remove any coarse bits, then whisk in the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.

2. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in the molasses and egg. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until well-blended.  Divide the dough into thirds and shape into 3 disks. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill until firm, about  30 minutes.

3. Heat the oven to 350 degrees and position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Working with one disk at a time, roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface to 1/8 inch thick. Cut the dough into shapes with cookie cutters, and transfer to parchment-lined baking sheets, at least 1 inch apart. Freeze the cutouts until very firm, at least 20 minutes. Meanwhile, roll out and cut cookies from the remaining disks of dough in the same manner (you can re-roll your scraps to make more cookies).

4. Bake the cookies two sheets at a time, swapping positions on the oven racks halfway through the baking time, until the edges are beginning to brown, about 11 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to a baking rack to cool completely before decorating.


To Decorate

1. In a medium bowl, stir together the confectioner’s sugar, lemon juice and just enough water to make a thick paste. Divide the glaze among smaller bowls and tint each with food coloring as desired. Thin with enough water to give the glaze the consistency of heavy cream.

2. Dip the tops of the cookies in the glaze, let the excess drip back into the bowl, and then set on baking racks (alternatively, you can use a fork to drizzle the glaze onto the cookies). When the glaze is partially dry, sprinkle the cookies with colored sugar, and let dry completely.