Spiced Gingerbread Piggies
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup mild molasses
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons ground allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Royal Icing, recipe follows
- Special equipment: 5-inch-long and 3-inch-wide copper piggy cookie cutter
- Royal Icing:
- 2 egg whites
- 3 cups confectioners' sugar, whisked to remove lumps
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- Food coloring, optional
Combine butter, sugar, and molasses in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk together the remaining dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture in increments, and continue to beat until thoroughly mixed together.
Pour the dough out onto the countertop and divide into 3 pieces. Press each piece into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator and chill for 1 to 2 hours, or up to 3 days.
Adjust the racks to the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line sheet trays with parchment paper.
Spread 2 large pieces of parchment paper out and very lightly flour them. Place a disk of dough between the parchment sheets and roll out to 1/4-inch thickness. Repeat with the remaining disks of dough. Rework all the scraps into balls and re-chill before reusing. Repeat with all the dough.
Cut out cookies and place on the parchment-lined sheet trays with an offset spatula, leaving 1 inch between each cookie. Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes. Cool on the sheet trays for 5 minutes, and then transfer to a cooling rack to continue cooling to room temperature before decorating the cookies with Royal Icing.Royal Icing:
Add the egg whites, sugar and lemon juice to a large bowl. Beat, using a hand mixer, until glossy and stiff, 5 to 6 minutes. Add food coloring, if using, and mix well. Place in icing bags with fine tips to decorate cookies.
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