SUGAR COOKIE CUT OUTS
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly milled black pepper
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup vegetable shortening, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 2/3 cup unsulfured molasses
- 1 large egg
- Royal Icing (recipe follows)
- 1 pound (4 1/2 cups) confectioners' sugar
- 2 tablespoons dried egg-white powder
- 6 tablespoons water
- Position the racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl, using a hand-held electric mixer at high speed, beat the butter and vegetable shorteninguntil well-combined, about 1 minute. Add the brown sugar and beat until the mixture is light in texture and color, about 2 minutes. Beat in the molasses and egg. Using a wooden spoon, gradually mix in the flour mixture to make a stiff dough. Divide the dough into two thick disks and wrap each disk in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until chilled, about 3 hours. (The dough can be prepared up to 2 days ahead.)
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature until just warm enough to roll out without cracking, about 10 minutes. Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and sprinkle the top of the dough with flour. Using cookie cutters, cut out the cookies and transfer to nonstick cookie sheets, placing the cookies 1 inch apart. Gently knead the scraps together and form into another disk. Wrap and chill for 5 minutes before rolling out again to cut out more cookies.
Bake, switching the positions of the cookies from top to bottom and back to front halfway through baking, until the edges of the cookies are set and crisp, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool on the sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer to wire cake racks to cool completely. Decorate with Royal Icing. (The cookies can be prepared up to 1 week ahead, stored in airtight containers at room temperature.)
Have a safe and happy holiday season and a HAPPY NEW YEAR!