Prep. time: 30 minutes
Resting time: 1 to 2 hours
Baking time: 10 minutes per pan
Oven temperature: 200°C / 400°F
The scent of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg is inseparable from Finnish Christmas and goes a long way towards getting you in the Christmas spirit. They're delicious as is, but you could also flavor the dough with a spoonful of cognac or brandy.
Why baking soda?
With the heat, it acts as a leavener for the dough and aerates and lightens the cookies.
Store in a metal tin.
- Bring the molasses, butter, sugar and spices to a boil in a saucepan. Simmer, stirring constantly, until a smooth shiny mixture is formed. Let cool to lukewarm off the heat - allow 15-20 minutes.
- When lukewarm, pour the mixture into a large bowl and whisk in the eggs.
- Combine the baking soda with the flour and add to the butter-molasses mixture in 3 additions. Mix in the first third with a whisk, the second part with a wooden spoon, and the final part by hand until a smooth dough forms.
- Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let rest 1 or 2 hours in a cool place.This will prevent the dough from spreading when baked.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F. Test by taking a little dough and flattening it to 3 or 4 mm and baking it. If it spreads out when baked, it means the dough needs more flour.
- Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out to 3 or 4 mm: no thicker since the cookies will rise slightly when baked.
- Cut out with a cookie cutter (a flower is traditional, but you'll find all sorts of Christmas shapes).
- Place on parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing them slightly. Bake for 6 to 9 minutes until very lightly colored. Overbaking will produce a burned taste. Don't worry if they are very soft when they come out of the oven: they will firm up as they cool.
- Combine the water and icing sugar in a bowl. If needed, add lukewarm water, one teaspoon at a time, to form a smooth consistency. Add food coloring as desired.
- Transfer the icing to a piping bag and decorate the cooled cookies.
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