Speculoos

Be prepared:  The rolled-out dough needs to be chilled for at least 3 hours.

Makes about 70 cookies - I used a 2" star cutter and got around 35 cookies

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 (packed) cup light brown sugar
1 LARGE EGG, AT ROOM TEMPERATURE

Whisk the flour, salt, baking soda, and spices together in a bowl.

Working in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter at medium speed until creamy.  Add the sugars and beat until well blended, about 2 minutes.  ADD THE EGG AND CONTINUE TO BEAT UNTIL IT, TOO, IS BLENDED INTO THE BUTTER AND SUGARS.  With the mixer on the lowest speed, add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, mixing only until the flour disappears into the soft dough.  You may have some flour at the bottom of the bowl, or the dough may not be entirely smooth, but that’s normal.  Using your hands (always my first choice) or a spatula, reach into the bowl and knead or stir the dough 2 or 3 times, just enough to eliminate any dry spots. 

Divide the dough in half.  (The dough is very soft, even after you refrigerate it for several hours, so if your kitchen is hot, you might want to divide the dough into thirds – that way it won’t take you as long to cut out the cookies and the dough won’t soften as much.)  Working with 1 piece of dough at a time, roll the dough between two sheets of wax paper or plastic wrap until you have a circle that’s a scant ¼ inch thick.  As you’re rolling, turn the dough over a couple of times and pull away the paper or plastic, so you don’t end up rolling creases into the dough.  Put the rolled-out rounds of dough on a tray or cutting board and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.  (The dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozne, well wrapped, for up to 2 months.)

When you’re ready to bake, center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Have a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.

Choose a cookie cutter – I like to use a scalloped cutter that’s 1 1/4-inches in diameter – and remove 1 circle of dough from the refrigerator.  Peel off the top piece of wax paper or plastic and cut out as many cookies as you can from the dough,carefully lifting the cutouts onto the lined baking sheet.  Collect the scraps and set them aside to combine with the scraps from the second piece of dough.

Bake the cookies for 8 to 10 minutes, or until they are lightly golden and just slightly brown around the edges.  Allow the cookies to rest on the baking sheet for a couple of minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack to cool.

Repeat with the second round of dough, making certain the baking sheet is cool before you put the cutouts on it.  To use the scraps, press them together, roll them into a circle, and chill them before cutting and baking.

Serving:  The cookies are just right with coffee, made for espresso and tea and really good nibbled as a snack.

Storing:  The dough can be wrapped airtight and kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months.  Kept in an airtight container, the cookies will be fine for a week or more

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