This recipe from Deb is a version of what we consume here in Brazil as Christmas cookies.
But for me, it makes a whole lot more sense to eat those spice-packed cookies - which would perfectly match hot cocoa - in the Winter.
So, preparing myself for the upcoming cold weather which has come and gone a few times to São Paulo over the past weeks, I tested this recipe that has been in my list since it was posted in Smitten Kitchen.
The cookies are soft and not overly sweet, they feel cozy.
But next time, I will be using less pepper, for sure. Geez, cayenne is hot!
3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons powdered ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon pepper (Deb didn't specify any particular kind. I have used cayenne, which was a novelty at my place. It hasn't been the best of my ideas. I suggest using 1/8 teaspoon powdered cayenne pepper or 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper)
3/4 teaspoon salt
100g butter at room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
(Cup measure: 240ml)
In a bowl, I sifted all of the dry ingredients together, except for the sugar.
In another bowl, I beat the sugar and butter until I got a fluffy cream. I did it using a metal fouet,
but you can do the same using a fork, wooden spoon, or a mixer.
So I added the egg and the molasses and beat a little more, until smooth and fluffy.
Then I added the dry ingredient mixture to the butter cream and stirred with a wooden spoon, until it turned to heavy, so I briefly kneaded by hand until it became smooth. The dough turns out really soft.
After that, I placed the dough in a tupperware and took it to the fridge. This is done to make the dough firm enough to roll it out and cut with the cutters.
Deb says it should stay for at least one hour and a maximum of two days.
I'll tell you the truth: I actually left my dough in the fridge for 6 days, and it still worked out.
The only thing about it is that the dough was a bit dry when I took it out, so I crumbled it in a bowl, added one teaspoon cold water and briefly kneaded again. It was enough to obtain a nice texture to roll the dough out.
So I separated the dough in two equal parts, and put one in the fridge while working the other.
I rolled the dough out over a lightly floured table, cut in various shapes, and transferred the cookies to sheets greased with a fine coat of oil and floured.
I turned on the oven at 180oC to preheat and took the sheets with the cookies to the fridge, so they would firm up before baking.
After 15 minutes, I put the first batch of cookies in the oven. I took it out when they started to lightly brown the edges (about 18 minutes) and let them cool in the sheet for 3 minutes before transferring to a rack.
I did the same with the remaining dough until I baked all of the cookies.
It's hard to tell how much it yields, since I baked cookies in various sizes and shapes (always remember that you shouldn't bake differently sized cookies in the same sheet, because the smaller a cookie is, the faster it bakes).
I think it would be something around 50 cookies, if they were 5cm squares.
They keep nicely for a long while if stored in airtight lidded glass jars or in tins.