Moravian Christmas Cookies

12 Days of Christmas Cookies

Moravian Christmas Cookies are paper-thin, crispy, spiced molasses cookies. Sweet and gingery, they taste a bit like gingerbread but are waaaay more addicting!

Moravian Christmas Cookies are paper-thin, crispy, spiced molasses cookies. Sweet and gingery, they taste a bit like gingerbread but are waaaay more addicting!

Let me boil down my college experience for you. At Wake Forest I learned a lot about math and French, a little about everything else including keg stands (I know. College. Insert rolling eye emoticon here…), and that Moravian Christmas Cookies (MCC) are the things that sweet dreams are made of.

Wake Forest is located in the booming metropolis of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. 😉 And while it is best known for Krispy Kreme…oh you didn’t know the first Krispy Kreme was in Winston-Salem? You thought it was started somewhere hip and trendy like Charlotte? Nope. Fun fact Tuesday.

Anyways…the town was originally settled by Moravians who are long gone but their delectable wafer-thin spice cookies live on.

Moravian Christmas Cookies are paper-thin, crispy, spiced molasses cookies. Sweet and gingery, they taste a bit like gingerbread but are waaaay more addicting!

I didn’t even like crispy cookies before college. If I even spotted a hint of brown edges, I was moving on. Next!

But MCCs stole my heart before I even had a chance to say no.

Moravian Christmas Cookies are paper-thin, crispy, spiced molasses cookies. Sweet and gingery, they taste a bit like gingerbread but are waaaay more addicting!

My parent’s friends gave me a “Welcome to Winston” care package and inside was Moravian sugar and Christmas cookies. I initially eyed the paper-thin, crispy cookies with disdain and set them aside, but I don’t need to tell you that school food is lack-luster at best. I won’t even tell you what I ate everyday for lunch for 4 years straight. It’s embarrassing. And, no, it wasn’t fried. #healthyeating #moreroomforcookies

It wasn’t long before I was opening that box of Moravian Christmas Cookies.

Moravian Christmas Cookies are paper-thin, crispy, spiced molasses cookies. Sweet and gingery, they taste a bit like gingerbread but are waaaay more addicting!

These cookies come in sleeves like Thin Mints. And like Thin Mints, I consider it a personal challenge not to eat the entire sleeve in one sitting.

Capital “A” addicting!

There should probably be a warning label of sorts.

Moravian Christmas Cookies are paper-thin, crispy, spiced molasses cookies. Sweet and gingery, they taste a bit like gingerbread but are waaaay more addicting!

If you love gingersnaps, gingerbread or any variation of sugar molasses cookies then you will adore Moravian Christmas Cookies. Adore.

Moravian Christmas Cookies are paper-thin, crispy, spiced molasses cookies. Sweet and gingery, they taste a bit like gingerbread but are waaaay more addicting!

It took me a few batches to nail the thickness (or thinness as the case may be with these cookies) and the baking time. There is a 20 second window between crispy perfection and burned. Don’t fret! I’ve done all the trouble shooting for you!

Can you see the difference between the two cookies in the photo above? The top one is the appropriate thickness and the bottom one was rolled more to the thickness of construction paper. After baking the cookie is just shy of 1mm. It’s time to practice those rolling skills!

The keys to rolling success*

* that I learned the hard way

  1. Roll them thin. When I say paper-thin, I mean paper-thin. Not cardboard-thin, not construction-paper-thin, not heavy-gauge-wedding-invitation-thin. Printer-paper-thin. They actually puff to double the thickness in the oven.
  2. Use a liberal amount of bench flour. Cover thy service with flour. You’re going to need it.
  3. But don’t cover the top with flour, just tap your hand on the counter and rub it on the rolling pin. You don’t want to see flour on the surface.
  4. Brush away excess surface flour with a clean, dry pastry brush. Do you know what flour tastes like when it bakes at 375 for 6 minutes? You don’t want to. It’s bitter and gross.
  5. I only rerolled my scraps once because of all the bench flour. Otherwise you work too much flour in the dough, which will make your cookies tough and tasteless. You want them to be thin like paper but not taste like it!
  6. Be gentle. Roll with love. A gentle, loving touch is the key to all good pastry. I learned that in culinary school. You’re welcome.
  7. You know your dough is thin enough when you can see the counter. It changes color from a dark molasses to a light brown sugar color. Congrats! You’ve arrived!
  8. There will come a time in the rolling process when you cannot lift the sheet of dough to get more flour under the center and your center is sticking and not rolling thinner. That’s okay. Gently roll out the edges to the proper thickness, cut with cookie cutter, and remove to your baking pan. Next, gently run an offset spatula under the dough and flip it over using both hands (with lots of love or it will tear – dough knows when you are frustrated. Trust me.). Sprinkle more flour and continue rolling and cutting. See. Problem solved sans tears.
  9. You can lightly dip your cookie cutter in flour and then tap off the excess.
  10. The store-bought MCC are perfectly flat. To achieve this you can bake the cookies with a second baking sheet on top. But, come-on, life’s little imperfections are what make homemade a million times better than store-bought. No?
  11. Send a picture of your paper-thin masterpieces to all your friends and family. Bask in the accolades. Come on, you’ve earned it!
  12. There was a brief moment in time when I thought I would use my KitchenAid pasta attachment for this rolling process. Ha! The dough is too fragile for that. There isn’t enough moisture or gluten to allow for short cuts. Unless you have an industrial-grade sheeter lying around, fuggetabout-it.

Moravian Christmas Cookies are paper-thin, crispy, spiced molasses cookies. Sweet and gingery, they taste a bit like gingerbread but are waaaay more addicting!

These Moravian Christmas Cookies are for the ninth day of my 12 Days of Christmas Cookies! You won’t want to miss the Cranberry Cinnamon Jam Bars,  Rum Refrigerator Cookies, or Cardamom Walnut Snowballs, Spiced Crinkle CookiesCoconut Peppermint Pretzel BarkOld Fashioned Date Pinwheels, Cranberry Thumbprint CookiesNana’s Oatmeal Raisin Cookies!!

Moravian Christmas Cookies are paper-thin, crispy, spiced molasses cookies. Sweet and gingery, they taste a bit like gingerbread but are waaaay more addicting!

Moravian Christmas Cookies

Total Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes

Yield: 10 dozen

Moravian Christmas Cookies are paper-thin, crispy, spiced molasses cookies. Sweet and gingery, they taste a bit like gingerbread but are waaaay more addicting!

Ingredients

  • ½ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon ginger
  • ¾ teaspoon cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • 1 cup molasses
  • ½ cup shortening
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl whisk together the sugar, soda, salt and all the spices.
  2. In a medium saucepan heat the molasses just to the boiling point but do not boil. This doesn’t take very long so watch it.
  3. Stir in the shortening until perfectly smooth. Cool slightly.
  4. Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer or use a hand mixer to beat in the sugar mixture. Add a bit of the flour, stirring to combine. As soon as it starts to hold together in a sticky dough, scoop it out onto the well-floured counter. Your bench flour in this step is part of the 4 cups total flour.
  5. Knead in the flour with your hands until the dough holds together. I used about 3 ½ cups of flour. The dough will become very stiff and that is what you want!
  6. Roll into a ball and refrigerate until firm. I refrigerated it overnight.
  7. When you are ready to roll (ha! Sorry.), preheat oven to 375° and line several baking sheets with parchment.
  8. Cut off a portion of the dough and roll paper-thin on a well floured surface. Cut into 2 inch circles, I used the fluted cutter because that is how the cookies looked at Wake. A small offset spatula works well for lifting the delicate circles from the counter. Brush off any excess flour and place on lines baking sheet. They don’t spread at all, so I baked mine less than ½ inch apart.
  9. Bake 4 minutes; rotate tray; bake 2 more; cool on baking sheet; stack and repeat.
  10. I only baked one sheet at a time because my oven sucks and there is no such thing as a top third and a bottom third. Divide and conquer at your own risk.
  11. They bake and cool so fast that it really doesn’t slow you down.
  12. Store in an airtight container. Stored properly, they will keep for weeks. Possibly months, not sure because mine didn't last that long!

Notes:

Recipe from The American Heritage Cookbook, 1964 edition

These cookies are vegan! Tell all your friends!

The dough will keep for weeks in the refrigerator, so you can roll as much or as little as you would like at a time.

http://americanheritagecooking.com/2015/12/moravian-christmas-cookies/

More Cookies to make the season bright!

Old Fashioned Date Pinwheels

These Old Fashioned Date Pinwheels are soft, chewy cinnamon brown sugar cookies with a pecan date filling! They may be old fashioned but they are absolutely sensational!

Rum Refrigerator Cookies

Rum Refrigerator Cookies: Soft, chewy and moist – these cookies’ cardamom and citrus notes will positively brighten your holidays. A little nuttiness from the almonds rounds out these absolutely sensational cookies.

Cardamom Walnut Snowballs

Grandma’s Molasses Sugar Cookies 

A recipe for my Grandma's Molasses Sugar Cookies | Crispy on the outside and chewy within! The perfect cross between a gingersnap, sugar cookie and gingerbread!

Coconut Peppermint Pretzel Bark

This easy Coconut Peppermint Pretzel Bark is a minty mix of white and dark chocolate with candy cane "snow", salty pretzels and a hint of coconut! You will love the holiday mint flavor!

 

Cherry Pecan Cookies

These easy Cherry Pecan Cookies are soft, chewy and nutty. A cream cheese sugar cookie is generously flavored with almond extract and rolled in pecans! My favorite Christmas Cookie recipe of all time!Hungarian Apricot Kolaches

Traditional Hungarian Apricot Kolaches | My Hungarian husband's favorite Christmas Cookie recipe! He says they taste just like his grandma used to make!

 Spiced Apple Cider Cranberry Cupcakes

Spiced Apple Cider Cranberry Cupcakes | Soft, moist apple cider cinnamon cake filled with spiced cranberry compote and topped with a cinnamon cream cheese butter cream! And don't forget the sugared pie crust leaf!Soft Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies

Soft Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies

 Traditional Linzer Cookies 

A recipe for the classic Austrian Raspberry Linzer Cookies | A delightful rolled almond cookie filled with raspberry preserves and dusted with powdered sugar! A new Christmas favorite!My Mom’s Gingerbread Boys

My Mom's Soft, Chewy Gingerbread Boys recipe! | It just wouldn't be Christmas without them!Cranberry Cinnamon Jam Bars

There are few homemade desserts easier than jam bars and these Cranberry Cinnamon Jam Bars are not only easy they pack serious holiday flavor! The cinnamon streusel doubles as both the top and bottom crusts with a gooey, spiced cranberry filling in between.


Comments

  1. Erika says

    Absolutely love this!! Gotta make it asap! Thanks for sharing! I noticed some other recipes mention mustard among the ingredients? have you ever tried it?

    • Lindsey says

      Hi Erika! I haven’t tried it but I can see that adding an interesting flavor to the spice mix. I have heard of adding it to gingerbread, so putting it in ginger cookies certainly makes sense! I took this recipe from an old cookbook and it didn’t have it. Happy baking!

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