Looking for some festive crafts to keep the kids occupied during the last week before Christmas? Bake up some joy in the form of crisp, mildly spiced cookies they can measure, stir, roll, cut and bake themselves. To hang them on your tree, cut a hole near the top with the end of a straw before baking. Once cooled, loop a ribbon through and tie them onto packages (write the recipient’s name in icing), filled jars or straight on the tree, to nibble off on Christmas morning.
Mildly Spiced Gingerbread Cookies
Adapted from Bon Appétit, December 1995
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light molasses
1 large egg
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. salt
In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in molasses, then egg. (Don’t worry if it looks separated – it will work out.) In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, allspice and salt.
Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and beat on low speed or stir by hand until you have a soft dough.
Divide dough into thirds. Gather each third into ball; flatten into disks, wrap each disk in plastic and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours, or for up to 2 days.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F. On a floured work surface, roll one disk of dough at a time out tabout 1/4-inch thick, cut into desired shapes and transfer to ungreased baking sheets, spacing 1/2 inch apart. If you like, cut a hole close to the top of each cookie with the end of a straw.
Bake for 12-15 minutes, until golden around the edges. Transfer to a wire rack to cool using a thin spatula. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.