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Cooking articles

Spice Cookies

There’s something mysteriously enticing about spice cookies. Perhaps it’s the warmly fragrant prelude as they bake. Or maybe it’s the delicious interplay between the sweet and spicy flavors. The best spice cookies deliver rich, distinctive (but not overwhelming) taste.

Sugar and Spices and very nice cookies

clovesScandinavian Spice Cookies
The subtly sweet flavor of this cookie lends itself well to the addition of spices. There are are two variations, but you get the idea; use the basic recipe as a backdrop for your favorite flavors.

Anise Cookies
The licorice-like bite of anise cookies is addicting, so you might want to double this recipe!

Spicy Pumpkin Cookies
This recipe also works well with cooked and pureed squash or sweet potatoes in place of the pumpkin. Frost with cream cheese frosting, if you like.

Ginger Snaps
Ginger adds zing to this traditional namesake cookie. Bake a batch when you want your home wafted in its warm fragrance.

Ask The Experts

ginger snap cookieI don’t have time to measure out a long list of ingredients when making a quick batch of cookies, but I love the taste of spices. Any shortcuts?

Sure. Sometimes just one strong spice (like ginger or allspice) is enough. Other times, you can substitute convenient blends like Pumpkin Pie Spice or Apple Pie and Dessert Spice for a handful of cookie spices. Pumpkin Pie Spice would work well in a pumpkin or squash cookie recipe, for example, while Apple Pie and Dessert Spice would be great in an oatmeal cookie.

How much is “a dash?”
Recipes that call for a dash generally don’t require an exact amount, but it’s considered less than 1/8 teaspoon. So a quick shake or sprinkle will do.

Is anise the same as licorice?
No, though they share some components that make them smell and taste similar. Licorice comes from the root of the licorice plant, while anise is a seed-like fruit. Anise is delicious in fruit pies and compotes, cookies and cakes, slaws, and beverages. The British enjoy sweet “aniseed balls,” while in New Zealand cooks whip up “anise wheel” treats, and Mexicans use anise in a hot chocolate beverage. It’s been enjoyed in many cultures as a breath freshener, too. Anise oil is used in Italian cookies called pizzelles and to frost Italian “anise drops.”

Cookie Tips

· The type of cookie sheet you use will influence the baking time. Stainless steel and other shiny bakeware reflects heat, which means your cookies will bake slower, while dark or dull bakeware (like those with a black finish) will absorb more heat and increase browning.

· It’s fine to substitute margarine for butter in a cookie recipe, but make sure it’s at least 60% vegetable oil. Lower-fat products have less fat and more water than the recipe depends upon.

· To lighten flour without sifting, stir it with a whisk.

· Check the temperature of your oven occasionally, using an oven thermometer. It’s not unusual for ovens to vary 25°F from the knob setting. Once you know how your oven is working, temperature-wise, you can adjust your settings.

· When a recipe says to “cream” the fat and the sugars, it means to beat the mixture to a light, fluffy consistency. Doing this gives your cookies a lighter texture and more volume, because it incorporates air into the batter. An electric mixer is a big help here.

· Freeze cookie dough for up to 6 months in a freezer container. Freeze baked cookies in a freezer container for up to 8 months. In the refrigerator, the dough will keep for up to a week in an airtight container.

· When making rolled cookies, refrigerate the dough for at least five hours before rolling. This will make it easier to work with.

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