Making these spice cookies turned into a real “make do and mend day” – I got a good result at the end of the day, but I had to do some mending and making do along the way.

As introduction to this cookie, I will note that while I started with the Gingerhaus springerle recipe that came with the mold they sell, I wanted more of a chai spice flavor, so added my own mix of spices to the recipe. So even though I’ve found that “chai spice” probably has about as many interpretations as there are bakers, I was pleasantly surprised to find this turned out to be one of the best spice cookies I’ve ever eaten, if I do say so myself!

I love a good spice cookie, but hadn’t really found one to make my “go-to” spice cookie. Until this one. So I hope you find this cookie to be as addicting as I have!

The stamped cookie and cut-out versions both came from this one batch.

I had bought a new cookie stamp (my first time using one!), but I fell in love with this one with an acorn springerle mold from the Gingerhaus on Etsy. “Mending” ended up being working with the dough so I could get the image on the stamp to show up strongly enough so you could tell what it is, without the cookie spreading too much. Which took trying a couple of different things, and ultimately using food coloring and luster dust to help the image to come through.

“Making do” was when I switched to cookie cutters to turn half of the dough into cutout cookies – I was making them for the Thanksgiving holiday, but didn’t have a Thanksgiving or Fall cookie cutter. So ended up using one I could adapt to look like a lit candle, which at least implies Fall, sitting by a cozy fire with a cup of tea, winter’s on the doorstep…you get the idea!

However, one thing it showed me was that the recipe could be used both ways, and with or without a royal icing. In fact, my preference is without icing, just let the spices come through with that crunchy, buttery flavor. I love a flexible recipe!

To start with, the version using the springerle mold.

This is a recipe that you could make the night before, or press out the cookies, and then let them chill and dry overnight before baking. This is to help ensure the image stays better defined and the cookie doesn’t spread as much.

When I used the mold with the first batch, and only chilled the cookies for an hour or so before baking, the cookies spread too much, and it was hard to tell what the picture was anymore on the cookie.

While it still worked better by chilling the pressed cookie dough overnight, after baking I still went ahead and used a bit of food coloring and luster dust (mixed with limoncello) in strategic places on the picture to get the acorn and the leaves to show up better.

For the second half of the dough, I made the cutout cookies. This time I did use the rolling pin to roll them out – on parchment paper to make it easier to get them to the cookie sheet without distorting. And the dough is somewhat sticky, so you you definitely still need flour on the parchment and the rolling pin to keep from sticking too much.

Because I wasn’t stamping an image into them this time, I could roll the dough a bit thinner. I also didn’t leave them in the fridge but about 30 minutes after cutting out the shapes, then baking.

Final note about baking – the stamped cookies were a bit thicker, so just watching timing in the oven depending on how thick you’ve got the cookies.

Chai Spice Cookies

  • Servings: at least 3 dozen cookies
  • Difficulty: difficult
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Ingredients

  • 1 c. butter, softened
  • 1 c. brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 2 Tbsp. milk
  • 2 tsp. orange zest
  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. and 2 tsp. Chai spice mix (recipe below)

Directions

    Cream butter until smooth. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Mix in the milk and orange rind.

    Sift together the dry ingredients – flour, baking powder, salt, spice mixture. Add the dry ingredients gradually to the creamed mixture and beat well. Divide dough in half, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 to 12 hours.

    To use a cookie press – roll out half of the dough at a time onto a piece of floured parchment paper (or between two pieces – dough is sticky), leaving it thick enough to be able to fill the cookie press as deep as needed. Before pressing into the dough brush both the cookie press and the dough with flour using a pastry brush.

    Press in cookie press one at a time, cut out around the shape and gently press on the bottom of the parchment paper to loosen the cookie into the opposite hand, and place the cookie on the cookie sheet. Keep going until all cookies have been pressed. Reshape the dough remnants and roll out again, until all cookies have been shaped.

    In order to help keep the cookie from spreading and the picture clearer, cool and dry out the cookies for up to 12 hours before baking.

    To use regular cookie cutters – roll out the dough half at a time onto floured parchment paper (it will be sticky) and cut out, reshaping the remnants and rolling out again as often as needed until all cookies have been cut out. To help cookies keep their shape, cool down in the fridge for 30 minutes before baking.

    Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and reduce to 325 degrees. Bake in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes (at 325 degrees) until golden brown. Watch the time in the oven depending on thickness (thicker if using the cookie press, thinner if cookie cutters).

    Cookies may be decorated, though wouldn’t have to be:

  • If using cookie press, one can dissolve equal parts luster dust and favorite liquer (like limoncello) and brush on to highlight the picture relief.
  • Or if making cut-out cookies, one can decorate with royal icing sugar (see recipe below).

Chai Spice Mix

  • Servings: ca. 4 oz. of spice
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. ginger
  • 1 Tbsp. cardamom
  • 4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. allspice

Directions

Mix spices together and store in small jar. Use to spice cookies, add milk and sweetener to make chai tea, or other baking uses.

Royal Icing

  • Servings: For one batch of cutout cookies
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 lb. (1 bag) powdered sugar
  • 1/2 c. meringue powder
  • 2/3 c. water
  • 1-2 tsp. vanilla

Directions

In standing mixer, use paddle to mix meringue powder and water until bubbly and frothy and well-mixed.

Add vanilla and mix in. Add all the powdered sugar and mix on low until incorporated.

Mix on medium, 4-6 minutes until white, stiff peaks have formed. This should be piping consistency. Add water a teaspoon at a time for softer peaks and flooding consistency.

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