Spice Cookies… That sounds spicy!

There are three things that simply make Christmas for me: the tree, Boomer’s 12 Days of Christmas (both of which will be documented here soon, I promise) and spice cookies (which will be documented here… NOW!)

Our family has a lot of cool things going for it, but one thing we’re completely lacking are family recipes. Dad invented an “Irish spaghetti” and a delightful original stew he called “Chicken Glop” but that’s about it. The one real recipe that’s been passed down to us by an older generation is these cookies, which come from Boomer’s mother’s mother. Because Schnookie hates baking cookies, it falls to me to produce a batch — or two, or four — every year. This is fine with me as I adore making them. They’re crazy easy to make, requiring no special techniques, although I feel like there are three steps that seem extra special to me.

The first is the spices: allspice, cloves and cinnamon. They get mixed into the flour and baking soda, but I like to take the extra step of putting them into their own little bowl, preferably the eggshell blue melamine one.


This way I can admire them. The cloves, in particular, are especially striking looking, I think. This year Schnookie treated me to fancy spices from Penzey’s. Even just smelling them I knew this batch would be the best one I’d ever made. (In this picture you can see how well-loved the recipe is; I always love seeing Gram’s handwriting on the little slip of paper every year.) I like to mix the spices together on their own, and then sift them into the flour. The flour-spice mixture then gets stirred together, making a beautiful looking, and even-more beautiful smelling bowl of dry ingredients.

The dry ingredients are mixed with the wet and almost instantly the dough turns into a really tough mess. I tend to forget this immediately after baking the cookies, so every year it’s a surprise. “Oh, right! This! Fun. Sigh.” Fortunately, I do remember that the dough is pretty nasty raw, so it’s not a surprise when I do the inevitable “oooh! Cookie dough!” taste test. The second special step is “shaping” the dough. This is a refrigerate, slice, then bake recipe. I learned to make these by helping Boomer when I was little. Boomer’s technique for “shaping” the dough was to slap a big hunk of dough on some wax paper and then squish it into some semblance of a log. Because the dough doesn’t rise or spread in the oven, the cookies come out looking just like the shape of the log. As a result, we grew up with spice cookies that weren’t perfectly round like the slice-and-back cookies you see in magazines or bakeries. We had cookies that were, at best, misshapen blobs. One year I tried making them round and it just seemed so, so wrong. So wrong.

Ever since I’ve stuck with the tried and true traditional blob-shaped log:


No, they’re not going to make the cover of Gourmet, but I’d rather they live up to being a family recipe, complete with the history of all the misshapen blobby cookies that came before them cooked into every batch.

misshapen blobs

The third step that seems special is the actual baking. These cookies do not change color while baking, so it’s a delicate, delicate matter making sure they don’t get over- or under baked. This year I was able to ascertain, thanks to Schnookie’s it-takes-a-rocket-scientist digital timer, that exactly 5 minutes and 43 seconds in our ovens is the amount of time to ensure the perfect spice cookie.

spice cookies

I almost didn’t write this post because I’m not convinced I can describe what they taste like. I’ve eaten them every Christmas for as long as I can remember, so to me, they taste like spice cookies! If I had to take a stab at it, I’d say they’re light (you can eat about 800 before you realize it), buttery and a bit dry (like a tea biscuit, almost). The spiced flavor is just strong enough but not overpowering. And to me, they’re Christmas on a plate.

Here’s the recipe for anyone who wishes to give them a whirl.

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 lb butter (or as the handwritten recipe says, “oleo”; it never fails to make me laugh)
3 eggs (well beaten)
5 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp allspice

Mix the sugars and butter until smooth. Beat in the eggs. Combine dry ingredients and mix into the wet ingredients.

Shape dough into logs and refrigerate for at least two hours. Slice into cookies about 1/4″ thick.

Bake 5-7 minutes on 425. The cookies will not change color much, so watch for them to appear cakey.

Makes a zillion cookies.



Filed under Baked Goods, Cookie, Cookie, Cookie Starts With C

19 responses to “Spice Cookies… That sounds spicy!

  1. HG

    Those look super yummy. I can’t wait to get home and take pictures of HR’s mom’s lefse and the raisin cookies I will make. Mmmm… Christmas… I’m guessing you are in the spirit now, Pookie?

  2. I’m guessing you are in the spirit now, Pookie?

    HUGELY! Thanks in no small part to the efforts of my dear friends to make me feel more Christmasy! :) I cant’ wait to see the lefse and raisin cookies!

  3. Meg

    Ooh, those sound delicious . . . I’m totally going to have to try them.

  4. The thing I love best about these cookies is that Pookie makes them all the time for office parties, cookie exchanges and what-have-you, and every time she unveils them she’s always like, “These are my family’s spice cookies and nobody likes them but us.” And then everyone is like, “These are the most wonderful cookies ever!” But does she listen? No. No she does not. Pookie is strangely convinced that anyone who didn’t eat these as a child will never love them. Maybe she thinks they’re like twinkies?

  5. HG

    Maybe Pookie doesn’t want the secret of the spice cookies to be known. I can understand that because then everyone will want the recipe and make them and then one year at the office parties, cookie exchanges and what-have-you, all that will be there will be spice cookies.

    Or something. I’m off to attempt to make popcorn in my multi-purpose stock pot/giant mixing bowl. It’s a perfect day for popcorn. The snow has not stopped all day and is up to my knees in some places. I know this because I bundled up and headed up to the corner store because the roads have not been plowed and I needed milk and bread and eggs. Yes, domesticity at it’s height.

  6. Wow! You have tons of snow? I think snow DEMANDS popcorn! (We’ve had tons of rain. Boring.)

    You make a great point that Pookie is just protecting her precious, precious secret recipe. :D

  7. HG

    Yes, tons. I haven’t got to the stove yet because HR called.

    Does Pookie keep the recipe in a locked box? :D

  8. Does Pookie keep the recipe in a locked box? :D

    Yes, and the locked box is locked in another box in a top-secret location. I have NO IDEA where she puts it. :D

    (Tell HR I say hi!)

  9. HG

    And do the cats each carry a key which may or may not open the boxes?

    (And I will!)

    The popcorn turned out quite well – I didn’t burn it which was the main goal. :D

  10. OMG!! I was driving to my parent’s house this weekend, driving along a road that I’ve always driven down and as a passed a strip mall/plaza I noticed a sign that read “Penzey’s Spices” and I almost swerved across the lanes to stop there because I was so intrigued by a store that I assuemd was just spices. So I can’t believe that you just mentioned Penzey’s Spices and I just googled the store and found out that yes, indeed, what I drove by is what you are referring to. Now I can’t wait to go home this weekend and make a stop at the store!

    Oh, and about the cookies, I can’t wait to make them! I’m planning on baking chocolate peppermint cookies to bring to work tomorrow but I was looking for another recipe to bake and I think this is just the one!

  11. These cookies sound yummy. I’m all in try-something-new mood, so I might need to try these. Usually, I make my oatmeal sugar cookies and they make me think of Christmas. And I don’t even realize it until I start to make them at Christmastime.

  12. kms2, you get to shop at the Penzey’s store???? I am SO jealous! Seriously, their catalog is PORN. I want to order one of everything. You must report back to let us know how the store is!

    Patty, isn’t it funny how there are recipes you don’t think of making except at Christmas, and then all of a sudden it’s like, “Wait, this IS Christmas!”

  13. …isn’t it funny how there are recipes you don’t think of making except at Christmas, and then all of a sudden it’s like, “Wait, this IS Christmas!”

    That’s exactly right! And sometimes I don’t even realize it until they’re baking.

    It’s like being outside on the first cold day and smelling smoke from someone’s chimney and being struck out of the blue by the fact that it’s almost Christmas.

  14. Smelling smoke from someone’s chimney is HUGE. I love that so much!

  15. their catalog is PORN
    Haha! I’ll definitely make a trip there this weekend! Maybe I can sneak a picture or two.

    Smelling smoke from someone’s chimney is HUGE. I love that so much!
    That doesn’t happen much around here so whenever I do smell smoke from a chimney I immediately think, “Fire!? Fire!? Fuck, fuck!!…ohhhh, wait, that’s a chimney!”

  16. Maybe I can sneak a picture or two.

    Ooohhhh! And then you can post racy pictures of spices frolicking in Penzey’s house of ill repute on the interwebs! I can’t wait!

    whenever I do smell smoke from a chimney I immediately think, “Fire!? Fire!? Fuck, fuck!!…ohhhh, wait, that’s a chimney!”

    Hee! I have to confess I think the same thing when the first neighborhood fireplace fire of the year is lit. Our chimney is a deathtrap, so we never even THINK of having fires, so it’s always a bit jarring when the weather first gets cold and you’re out in the yard thinking, “Ahh! Call the Fire Department!”

  17. Sarah

    You’re such a nerd to put the spices separately in the pretty blue bowl–it’s exactly what I do too!!

  18. Sarah, I have decided, for no good reason, that the cookies taste better for having the spices mixed together in a separate bowl first, and then mixed into the flour and then mixed into the batter. Surely that distributes the spices more evenly, right? Right?

  19. Sarah

    That’s totally what I belive, Pookie!

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