Cut-Out Spice Cookies:
My Favorite Recipe for Roll-Out Cookie Dough
for Thirty (yikes) Years

Roll-out cookies are too pretty to save for Christmas! This is my all-time year-round favorite cut-out cookie dough recipe, for easy-easy handling, yes, but also for flavor, think lively gingerbread-style spices kissed (but just on the cheek!) by chocolate.

Cut-Out Spice Cookies - here in hearts for Valentines, engagement and anniversary parties

Mix butter, flour and sugar for cookies and what do you get? Cookies that taste like butter, flour and sugar – not that there's anything wrong with that, mind you, if shortbread is the object.

Too often though, sugar cookies are all about their good looks. Aii, aren't they just so pretty? The colors! The squiggles! The sprinkles! The sparkles!

But call me crazy, I want cookies to taste good, frosted or unfrosted, otherwise, they might as well come from Sam's Club. If bakers are going to the trouble to cut out, bake and decorate cut-out cookies (and no question, cut-out cookies take time and effort), they should taste as good as they look.

And these do! There's no missing the gingerbread-style spices nor the underlying chocolate. The cookies are slightly soft but hold up well under the icing. With a little extract added to the frosting? These cookies pack a flavor punch!

CUT-OUT COOKIE OCCASIONS This dough is so easy to roll out and cut into shapes with cookie cutters, it deserves a place in year-round occasions. Heart-shaped cutouts for Valentines, engagement and anniversary parties? Say yes, then I do! Football cut-out cookies for Superbowl parties? Score. Shamrock-shaped cookies for St. Patrick's Day? Lucky! Cut-out Easter eggs and bunny shapes for Easter-egg hunts? A find! For Halloween, how about pumpkin shapes with orange icing and black-cat shapes with black icing? For fall parties, maple leaves? For Thanksgiving open houses, turkey shapes with multi-colored tail feathers? For Christmas, dancing Gingerbread Men and Gingerbread Women and the lovely Frosty Christmas Trees, the first way I used this dough, back in 1980, I think it was. The holiday ideas for roll-out cut-out cookies are endless!

ALANNA'S TIPS For crisper cookies, roll slightly thinner. For softer cookies that 'poof' just a bit, roll slightly thicker. On any single baking sheet, however, bake cookies of the same thickness. The cookies don't spread during baking so can be placed quite close together on a baking sheet. Leave a few cookies unfrosted, they'll appeal to cookie lovers who limit their sugar intake. To my taste, they're just as good unfrosted as frosted! Be sure to let frosted cookies dry thoroughly, several hours at minimum, overnight is better still. I love the brightness of lemon extract that works so beautifully with the ginger-cinnamon-clove spices but others work too. At Christmas, I've used peppermint and anise, I've also seen fruity extracts in international groceries that might be lovely at Easter, say.
Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via recipes@kitchen-parade.com. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. Become a Kitchen Parade fan on Facebook!

CUT-OUT SPICE COOKIES

Mixing time: 15 minutes then chill overnight
Baking time: 1 hour
Decorating time: how many helpers can you recruit?
Makes 6 dozen medium cookies
    FROSTING
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract or another extract
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • More water as needed
  • 3 cups powdered sugar (330 grams), sifted to break up lumps if needed

Cream butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the egg and molasses, mix until light and fluffy. Separately, whisk together the remaining dry ingredients, then mix into the butter mixture until well blended. Gather the dough together to form a compact ball. Break into three roughly equal pieces, form each one into a flat disk with smoothed edges, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350F. Work with one disk at a time. Lightly sprinkle a work surface with powdered sugar. Roll dough with a rolling pin, working from the center out with a light but firm touch, smoothing the edges as the dough spreads, aiming for dough about 1/4 inch thick throughout. Cut out with cookie cutters, lifting from the work surface with a thin knife to transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment. Set aside the scraps. Bake cookies for about 8 minutes until edges are light brown. Remove from oven, let cool, then transfer to a cooling rack or paper towels to finish cooling. Repeat with remaining two disks. Gather together the scraps from all three disks into a compact disk (you might need to refrigerate to be able to roll out again); roll and cut in similar fashion until all the dough is used.

FROSTING Makes 1 cup, good for one or two colors. For more colors, a second batch of frosting helps. To make, combine extract and water in a medium bowl, stir in powdered sugar until smooth. Add food coloring. Add more water, a teaspoon at a time, until the frosting reaches a good consistency for frosting. Transfer to a zip lock bag and seal. To frost the cookies, snip a very small piece off the corner of the bag and gently squeeze to apply. Let the frosting dry overnight.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE Cookie without frosting, per cookie: 67 Calories; 2g Tot Fat; 2g Sat Fat; 9mg Cholesterol; 53mg Sodium; 10g Carb; 0g Fiber; 4g Sugar; 1g Protein; Weight Watchers 1 point
Cookie with frosting, per cookie (assumes only 2/3 of frosting actually used): 79 Calories; 2g Tot Fat; 2g Sat Fat; 9mg Cholesterol; 53mg Sodium; 13g Carb; 0g Fiber; 7g Sugar; 1g Protein; Weight Watchers 2 points
Adapted from a recipe published in a 1980 women's magazine, Woman's Day or Family Circle maybe? First published here in 2002 as Frosty Christmas Trees and Kitchen Parade's very first cookie recipe.

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This recipe is a keeper, Alanna. One can never have too many satisfying recipes for roll-out cookie dough, and this will be the first I have that combines gingerbread w/ chocolate. I can only thank you for that!
 
I still make these too. I'd call them a favorite and for the same number of years. If I remember right we both made these the year that we found the recipe, without discussion. Mine were crisper, yours softer, but we discovered we had used the same recipe!

It is a great recipe. These cookies taste good and keep well, the flavor developing a little with time. Thanks for the reminder that they don't have to be just for Christmas.
 

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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna