Moravian Spice Cookies

Add some spice to your holiday baking with these traditional cookies.

Moravian Spice Cookies

Moravian Spice Cookies

Freshly grated ginger and other seasonal spices give wafer-thin Moravian cookies bold flavor.

Freshly grated ginger and other seasonal spices give wafer-thin Moravian cookies bold flavor.

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We’re in serious holiday kitchen mode right now, baking Christmas cookies of all sizes, shapes, textures and flavors. The sugar is flying fast and furious and the sweet tooths (sweet teeth?) will certainly delight in the rows of gooey, sacchariferous treats, but one cookie on the menu this year offers something with little more bite. Moravian spice cookies are thin, crispy and all about the spice.

Moravian spice cookies are a home-grown holiday treat here in North Carolina. Escaping religious persecution in their native Moravia (once part of Czechoslovakia), many Moravians settled in Pennsylvania, but some found their way south to Winston-Salem, NC, bringing with them a centuries old holiday tradition of baking heavily spiced, wafer-thin cookies. Using powerful spices like ginger, cloves, pepper and sometimes even ground mustard, the coarse dough would be rolled to paper-thin thickness, cut into discs and baked to spiced, crispy perfection.

When preparing these cookies, the dough is refrigerated overnight to allow it to hold together. It can be challenging to roll the cookies to paper-thinness. A slightly thicker cookie may not reach the crisp texture associated with the spiced treat, but they will still taste fantastic. Sweetened by molasses and using seasonal spices, Moravian cookies have a bite that goes great with a cup of tea or cocoa on a cold winter day. Fresh ginger adds a wonderful brightness to an unapologetically bold cookie with the taste of the holidays.

Moravian Spice Cookies

  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup molasses
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Cream shortening and brown sugar together in a mixing bowl.

Beat in molasses and egg yolk.

Sift together flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves salt and nutmeg and add to wet mix.

Mix together thoroughly and work with hands until dough holds together in a ball.

Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate several hours or overnight.

On a lightly floured surface, roll dough out as thin as possible.

Cut into cookies using a biscuit or cookie cutter and arrange on a parchment lined cookie sheet.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 8-9 minutes.

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