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Last Christmas I gave you my heart…

Just kidding (but I did love George Michael at one point in my life). Last Christmas I fell in love with hand carved cookie molds specifically Dutch-style heirloom molds. I wanted to buy all of these molds but especially the Sinterklaas and windmill molds from this prolific hand carver. But I also wanted a mold that would be meaningful for me and my community. So I reached out to Gene Wilson about a custom carved mold and since he retired this year he referred me to Russ at RnBWoodArt. He took the time to find out exactly what I wanted and created a beautiful cookie mold with the impression of St. Athanasius, known as the Father of Orthodoxy and the saint for whom our Coptic Orthodox church in Orlando was named.

It created a beautiful cookie and I wanted to share a couple of recipes I used to make these cookies. The first one is made with honey and is adapted from one that I got from Gene’s website above. This is the one I prefer. But I also included an alternative recipe that I have used for decades to build my gingerbread houses — it is more of a construction gingerbread recipe but I included it for variety. I originally got this recipe with a very old Pampered Chef gingerbread house mold that my mom bought for me when I was a teenager! My youtube video below provides some helpful tips for using the molds. Merry Christmas!

Speculaas Cookies

Servings: 16 8 inch cookies

Ingredients

  • 225 g unsalted butter melted
  • 1 large egg beaten
  • 120 g honey ½ cup
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 110 g brown sugar ½ cup
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 630 g AP flour 4 ½ cups
  • ¼ cup rice flour optional for dusting, AP flour can be used
  • 1 large egg optional for glazing the cookies

Instructions

  • Beat the egg with the honey, milk and almond extract in a stand mixer with the paddle or with a hand mixer until combined.
  • Combine the dry ingredients except for the flour in a small bowl and add the to the egg mixture. Beat until well combined.
  • Gradually add the melted butter.
  • Gradually add the flour and mix at low speed until it comes together.
  • Transfer to a lightly floured work surface and knead until a smooth, slightly sticky dough is achieved.
  • Wrap with plastic wrap and chill for ½ hour or until firm.
  • Dust your mold with rice flour (or AP flour) and put in small pieces of dough to fill the mold. Roll over the dough with a rolling pin then use a sharp knife to level the dough against the mold.
  • Transfer to parchment lined baking sheets and chill for at least ½ hour or until firm.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F. If desired, brush with 1-2 coats of beaten egg for a glazed finish. Bake straight from the fridge for 12-15 minutes or until just slightly browned at the edges.

Construction Gingerbread Recipe

Use this for your gingerbread houses
Servings: 1 house

Ingredients

  • 375 g AP flour 3 cups
  • tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • 95 g solid vegetable shortening ½ cup
  • 100 g sugar ½ cup
  • 170 g molasses ½ cup
  • 1 large egg

Instructions

  • Lightly spray the mold with nonstick cooking spray; blot out excess with paper towel.
  • Combine flour, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, salt and cloves; mix well.
  • In a large mixing bowl fitted with the paddle, beat the shortening and sugar until well blended. Add molasses and egg and beat until smooth.
  • Gradually add flour mixture and mix well.
  • Shape dough into a ball; divide into two portions. Wrap each portion in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Press small portions of dough into the mold and roll over dough with rolling pin. Cut off excess with serrated knife held parallel to the surface of the mold.
  • Bake 17-20 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool in mold for 5 minutes before turning out.

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