These Norwegian Spice Cookies are my mom’s favorite Christmas cookie.
I know that, originally, we had copied the recipe from a magazine. Many years ago I typed it up and put it in my recipe binder. Unfortunately, I don’t know the original source. But I’ve made a few changes over the years anyway (to turn them into the proclaimed “ultimate” spice cookie), and so my own version of the recipe is featured here, along with a printable version.
But first, all the yumminess my camera could capture:
I just love how the shadow of the mixer in the mixing bowl looks like a Christmas tree. :)
This is the butter and sugar about to be creamed together, with the eggs and vanilla waiting patiently nearby.
When you blend together the dry ingredients (flour and spices) be sure to thoroughly sift them together. I use a fork for this. You want the spices to be evenly distributed.
I know it looks like a lot of spice when you’re measuring it out, but don’t worry, it won’t look like that much once it’s all mixed – and the flavor is fantastic!
The gooey, spicy, luscious dough…
Once it’s blended, it’s pretty soft. At this point you need to divide the dough in half, shape each half into a disc, wrap the discs in plastic wrap, and refrigerate them for an hour.
I’ve found that the easiest way to do this is to lay out a sheet of plastic wrap on the counter and scoop the dough into the center of it. Fold the plastic wrap over the small mountain of dough and shape generally into a flattened circle as you pull the wrap over and around the dough.
It’s sticky, so using the plastic wrap to shape it instead of your hands saves you some time and aggravation.
After you’ve had an hour to clean the mixer, sort through your cookie cutters, place some parchment paper on your baking sheets, and dance to a few Christmas songs, then the dough will be ready to be rolled out.
You could actually leave it in the refrigerator for a couple of hours, but I don’t think I’ve ever left it overnight. After a few hours the butter in it gets too hard to roll out and then it needs to sit at room temperature for awhile, but if you leave it too long then it gets too soft, and that just makes my life complicated… so, really, between 1 to 2 hours is best.
Usually, in the midst of Christmas cookie baking marathons, I’ll make this dough, put it in the fridge, make and bake another cookie (like chocolate chip, for example), and then cut out and bake these. Works out pretty well that way.
And look at the spices in those snowflakes: you can SEE the cinnamon, the cloves… *mouth waters* …mmm, you should smell the magnificence.
And these reindeer cookies are a great way to illustrate that flour helps you cut out the cookies. The dough is soft and will stick to the cutters, but dipping the cutter in a dish of flour before stamping out a couple of cookies will help the dough to fall right out of the cutter.
Also, peeling away some of the dough surrounding the cookies before trying to lift them will help. As will using a spatula like the one pictured below, or like this.
But, sometimes I peel away the extra dough, and sometimes I don’t bother. I certainly don’t pull away ALL of the dough… except for in the above photo because I thought it would make a neat picture. :)
But you really only need to do a little at a time to help with transferring the cookies to the baking sheets.
If you’ve rolled out the dough without enough flour under it, the cookies will stick to the counter. Just dip your spatula in flour before sliding it under the dough to loosen them.
And remember, with soft cookie dough like this, flour is your friend:
You should put flour under the dough, on top of the dough, on the rolling pin, on the cookie cutters, and on the spatula. I mean it: flour party.
If there is too much on the finished cookie, just blow off the excess before baking. Any extra at that point will be absorbed by the egg wash that you put on the cookies just before baking.
Although, I have to admit, I sometimes forget to add the egg wash. But that’s okay. It’s not essential to the cookie, but it does add a nice shine and a silky smoothness to them.
The above picture is what was left of my dough after I collected all the scraps, rerolled them, cut out more cookies, and did it all again. I got two small stars out of the last roll.
But we don’t waste food in our family.
So, I rolled up these scraps into a circle, flattened it into an oval, and placed it on my last sheet of cookies to bake. After all, sometimes these last-of-the-scraps creations are the best part of making cookies. :)
And really, these cookies are great two ways: thick and soft or thin and crunchy. My mom likes them crunchy, I prefer them soft. Luckily, that’s an easy problem to solve when baking multiple trays: just cook some longer.
So, even tho the directions call for 10 to 12 minutes, I’ve cooked some larger ones up to 14 or 15 minutes. Just keep an eye on them, to prevent burning.
Once the cookies were fully cooled, I sprinkled them with powdered sugar. This step is not necessary, and I wouldn’t suggest doing it until you are ready to eat/serve them, but it is a nice touch.
Oh, and I didn’t bake them in that little metal pan – it was just to keep the sugar contained. :) The cookies need to cool on racks before you add the powdered sugar.
These ultimate spice cookies go great with coffee:
And with Christmas trees:
Ultimate Norwegian Spice Cookies
3 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
4 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 egg white mixed with 1 teaspoon water
Powdered sugar (optional)
Combine flour, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, and salt in a bowl until well blended.
Beat butter and sugar in a bowl until creamy. Mix in eggs and vanilla. Gradually add flour mixture.
Divide dough in half, flattening each piece into a disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.
Preheat oven to 350F.
Roll dough about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thickness on a well-floured surface. Cut out cookies with cookie cutters that have been dipped in flour. Place cookies on ungreased baking sheet, preferably covered with parchment paper, and brush with the eggs white mixture.
Reroll scraps and repeat with remaining dough.
Bake cookies for 10 to 12 minutes or until just browning on edges. Cool on wire racks. Store covered.
Before serving, as an optional step, you can sprinkle them with powdered sugar.
Click for the FREE printable PDF: Norwegian Spice Cookies
And Happy Baking! :)