Ruth Moulton’s Spice Balls

Posted on October 30th, 2013  |  Filed under Desserts « Featured Recipe « Recipes

The holiday season always reminds me of these cookies, one of my favorites from Sara Moulton Cooks at Home. Just the aroma of these spicy cookies in the oven will bring the family to the kitchen.

My sister Anne is the baker in our family. Even now, as a doctor at a busy hospital, the mother of two kids, the wife of a doctor husband, and the owner of a generally hectic life, she’ll take time out every so often to make that delicious Fanny Farmer pound cake or whip up a batch of wonderfully crisp Toll House cookies. (Her trick? Cut back on the flour and flatten out the cookies by banging the sheet pan on the oven shelf when they are halfway done. Flattened out, the cookies have more surface area and bake up nice and crispy.)

Like me, Anne was introduced to baking as a kid by our grandmother, Ruth. Together we made bread from scratch, zillions of cookies, and all kinds of pies. (It was Granny who turned us on to the joys of pie for breakfast!) A generation later Anne has passed on these skills to her kids, Peter and Katie.

This recipe is one of Anne’s favorites. To begin with, the dough freezes very well. Unfreeze it and bake your cookies whenever you like. Like chewy gingerbread without all the ginger, they are a special treat at holiday time and comfort food anytime. (Please note: Even though these are called spice “balls” they end up flat after baking.)

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup molasses
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon table salt

Makes about 48 small cookies

Combine the butter and 1 cup of the sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in the egg and molasses.
Sift the flour, soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, and salt together onto a piece of parchment. Add to the butter mixture in 2 batches, beating just until combined. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 2 to 3 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a pie plate. Shape the dough into walnut-size balls and roll in the sugar to coat. Arrange 2 inches apart on greased baking sheets and bake until cracked and dry but still soft, about 10 minutes. Cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to cool on wire racks.



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