Fall is my favorite time of the year – every day of it, especially the late days harvesting and the crisp cold days before Thanksgiving. I love starting my holiday baking early and these beautiful cutout cookies are perfect for the autumn season. They always make unexpectedly delightful gifts before the big holiday rush. They ground me in this season that I love.
• ½ cup unsalted butter
• ½ cup packed brown sugar
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• 1 egg
• 3 tablespoon pure maple syrup or maple-flavor syrup
• ½ teaspoon vanilla
• 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
• Orange paste food coloring
• Red paste food coloring
*See tips below for using gels or liquid coloring.
Beat butter in a medium mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add brown sugar, baking powder, and salt; beat until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour with a wood spoon.
Divide dough into thirds. Leave one portion plain. Knead orange food coloring in another portion. Knead red color into remaining portion. Chill dough for 1 hour or until easy to handle.
Roll about a third of each color dough into 10-inch ropes on a lightly floured surface. Twist ropes together, fold in half crosswise and flatten slightly. Roll 1/8 inch thick (keep remaining dough refrigerated). Cut with leaf-shape cookie cutters. Place cutouts 1 inch apart on greased cookie sheets. Score veins with a table knife or skewer. Gently gather and reroll scraps. Repeat with remaining dough. Make a hole in each cookie to create an ornament if desired.
Bake in a 375 degree oven for 7 to 9 minutes or until edges begin to brown. Cool on wire racks. Makes about 40.
*TIPS: If you are using gel or liquid food coloring a bit more flour will be required to take in the liquid added from the coloring. Experiment with color mixes. I always use parchment paper on my cookie sheet so I don’t have to use grease or spray.
Recipe adapted from Sunset Magazine.
• ¾ cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
• ¾ cup sugar
• ¾ cup molasses
• 3 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon soda
• 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
• 2 teaspoons ground ginger
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
In a bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in molasses. In another bowl, mix flour, baking soda, espresso powder, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir or beat into butter mixture until well blended.
Divide dough into half. Flatten each portion with your hands into a 1-inch-thick disk. Wrap each disk airtight and freeze until firm, about 1 hour.
On a lightly floured board, with a floured rolling pin, roll a portion at a time to ¼ inch thick. With floured cutters, cut dough shapes (if dough becomes too soft to handle, freeze briefly until firm again). With a wide spatula or your fingers, transfer cookies to buttered or parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing them 1 inch apart. Gather scraps, pat into a ball, and repeat rolling and cutting. Use a butter knife to make leaf veins on each cookie.
Bake cookies in a 300 degree oven until edges are brown, 15 to 20 minutes; if baking more than one pan at a time, switch pan positions halfway through baking.
Transfer cookies to racks to cool. If hot cookies start to break, slide a thin spatula under them to release, let stand on cookie sheet to firm up 5 minutes. Then transfer to racks to cool completely.
To package my leaf cookies, I first cut a piece of tissue to fit inside small gift boxes and then added a little raffia to the bottom of each box. Next I carefully filled the boxes with cookies, mixing the maple and ginger cookies. Lastly, I decorated each box with personalized fancy labels and ribbon. For a special touch, I tied a small leaf cookie to the ribbon creating an adorable cookie ornament.
These leaf cookies turned out so pretty I had fun turning some into ornaments by poking a small hole in each cookie before baking. Once cooled, I strung with string and finished with a diamond hang tag and ribbon for a colorful, edible ornament.