I always get a little envious when I read other food blogs this time of year. As other bloggers make Christmas cookies and holiday recipes, Monica and I are both slogging through the final days of papers and exams. I have one more final paper left, which I'm supposed to be writing instead of posting this, and progress is extremely slow right now...there's a jar of molasses sitting in a bin somewhere behind me, just begging to be baked into something warm and sweet and spicy.
Holiday-themed food blog posts have become one of my biggest sources of procrastination right now, and telling myself that the sooner I finish this paper, the sooner I can actually bake something doesn't seem to help. At this point, anything seems more interesting than final essays. Even 1990s British rom coms. (Thank you Bridget Jones' Diary and Hugh Grant, by the way, for reminding me that I still like Britain, even after three final papers and an exam about it in the past two weeks).
I won't bore you with the details of my abnormal sleep and meal schedule, or that time I stayed up until 3 am listening to ballads about Irish revolutionaries, but suffice to say Ireland seems to always enter my conversations, and even onto this here blog.
I made these cookies in a I-don't-give-a-damn-about-finals-right-now-I-just-finished-an-exam-and-really-need-a-cookie sort of mood last week, but somehow they ended up being inspired by Ireland anyways. (By the by, I just tallied up the number of pages I've written about Ireland this semester, and am pushing 70...sometimes I wonder about what I do with my time here.) I came across these beautifully shaped cookies a few years ago, and when I was considering what to do with all the post-British Empire exam spice cookie dough I made, I thought of them.
It takes a couple of attempts to get the hang of making these cookies. (You can find step-by-step pictures here.) I found that the easiest thing to do was to shape the dough on a tabletop, transfer them to a small piece of foil, freeze them until they're completely hard, and then peel them off and bake them on a cookie sheet. You work with the dough a lot as you shape them, so you'll want to make sure they're thoroughly chilled before baking.
Give these guys a try. Their unique shape would make them a great addition to any cookie platter. They're a bit time-consuming, but fun to make, as well as delicious, crumbly, buttery, and sweet, with a healthy dose of spices. Perfect to munch on as you're "writing a paper."
Here's to the home stretch.
1 cup butter, at room temperature
⅔ cup dark brown sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ¾ cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon allspice
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ cup granulated sugar
Whisk together the butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Whisk in the egg and vanilla. Set aside.
Sift together the flour, salt, and spices. Mix flour mixture into the butter mixture, until just combined. Do not overmix or the cookies will become tough. Chill the dough for at least one hour, or overnight.
Cut out several squares of 4x4 inch squares of foil or wax paper.
Roll about 2-3 tablespoons of dough into a 12-inch rope. Arrange the dough so that it curves downward, like a rainbow. Bring up one end of the dough over the middle, forming a loop. Bring up the other end of the dough over the middle as well, forming a second loop. pinch together the two ends of the rope, so that they form a third loop.
Roll another 1 ½ - 2 tablespoons of dough into an 8-inch rope. Lay the rope in a circle over the shape you just formed. Pinch together the two ends, pinching off extra dough if the circle is too large.
Carefully transfer the cookie onto the foil. Place the cookie in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.
Repeat this process of shaping the cookies with the rest of the dough.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a large cookie sheet.
Pour the granulated sugar in a shallow bowl. Carefully peel the frozen cookies off the foil, and dip face-down in the sugar. Place onto the cookie sheet.
Bake the cookies for about 18-20 minutes. (You might need to bake slightly more or less, depending on the size of your cookies). Let cool and enjoy!