Spiced Seasonal Cookies

Now that the weather has finally cooled off from the over 90 temperature days of late summer, I’ve been in the mood for autumnal cooking.  As it happens, fall and winter are generally my favorite seasons for cooking.  Sure, spring brings with it rhubarb and asparagus, and summer is a lovely time for beans, tomatoes, berries, melons, and so on.  But my heart (and stomach) belong to the deep, unctuous meat stews, softly starchy root vegetables, mounds of butter and sugar, and spices – dear, sweet winter spices: cinnamon especially, but also ginger, cloves, allspice, nutmeg…

Gingerbread is a favorite holiday treat, but I’m not a particular fan of hard cookies, unless I’m planning on eating them with tea (which I should really do more often).  Typically, when I make gingerbread, I like it in dark, dense, moist-crumbed loaves – really excellently delicious with a light lemon icing, by the way.  But I wanted a ginger cookie, and last year, I discovered these.  Soft and chewy, well-spiced, but not overwhelming.  This dough is relatively sturdy, and could probably hold up to rolling and cutting out into whatever shapes you desire.

Ginger Cookies (makes about 2-3 dozen)

I made this version out of mostly whole-wheat flour with some teff mixed in for a variation on taste and nutrition, but you can make it out of a mix of any flours you like, really, including regular all-purpose flour.


  • 2 1/4 c. whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 c. butter, softened
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp. water
  • 1/4 c. molasses
  • 1/4 c. coarse granulated sugar for rolling, on a plate


  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Sift together dry ingredients and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in the egg until thoroughly combined.  Stir in water and molasses.  Fold in dry ingredients until just combined.
  3. Shape 2 tbsp. of dough into balls, then roll in sugar.  Place 2 inches apart on baking sheet and flatten with the bottom of a glass.  Bake 8-10 minutes.  Let cool on baking sheet 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.


Oatmeal Shortbread (makes 1 9×9 inch pan, 2 dozen small squares)

This shortbread is crisper on the edges and tends to be softer and chewier in the center, but even center pieces crisp up when completely cooled.


  • 1 c. whole-wheat flour
  • 3 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3/4 c. butter, softened
  • 3/4 c. brown sugar
  • 3/4 c. old-fashioned rolled oats


  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Butter a 9×9 inch pan.
  2. Sift dry ingredients into a medium bowl and set aside.
  3. Beat butter and sugar in a large bowl and beat until smooth.  Slowly beat in dry ingredients until dough begins to come together.  Mix in oats with a rubber spatula.  Spread in prepared pan.
  4. Bake 15-20 minutes, or until top is lightly browned.  Remove from the oven and let cool several minutes, or until you can cut into it without disturbing the dough.  Cut into squares, and then let cool completely before serving or storing.

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