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Moravian spice cookies are super-thin molasses cookies that many call the “world’s thinnest cookie”—I’ve rolled out dozens (more on that later). Moravian settlements like Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, feed them during Christmas.
When studying Moravian cookies for a Linzer twist, one thing becomes evident almost immediately: people seldom bake them from scratch. They love them, but there are so many great bakeries that sell them, and rolling out the world’s thinnest biscuit to paper-thin is difficult.
But I did it and am happy to offer my (hard-earned) ideas. First, be patient—rolling out the dough between two parchment papers, as I propose, isn’t hard unless you rush (I tried and it wasn’t nice). Second, your fridge/freezer is your friend! To make cutting simpler, regularly chill or freeze parchment-covered dough sheets. Re-roll if the dough softens and tears. Third, cut the cookies into squares or rectangles instead of circles to make removing the leftovers easier. This thin, sticky dough soon softens. Also simplify the windowpane cut-out. Squares, circles, and diamonds provide lovely tiny windows into the delectable jam underneath.
Three Favorite Cookie-Baking Tools
1.Kitchn’s Sheet Pan
This strong, non-warping pan makes tons of excellent sweets. Bonus: Its vibrant hues make baking enjoyable.
2.Best Cooling Rack
These racks are great because their criss-cross construction stabilizes them, keeps your snacks from falling through, and avoids warping.
3.The Essential Baking Spatula
This thin-but-sturdy spatula delicately lifts cookies from the pan and transfers them to the cooling rack. It helps move delicate delicacies.
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 2/3 cup molasses (not blackstrap)
- 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
- About 2/3 cup regular or seedless blackberry jam
- Place 1 stick unsalted butter in the bowl of a stand mixer (or large bowl if using an electric hand mixer). Let sit at room temperature until softened.
- Place 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda in a medium bowl and whisk to combine.
- Add 2/3 cup molasses and 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar to the bowl of butter. Beat with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed until fluffy, scraping the bowl with a flexible spatula as needed, about 3 minutes. With the mixer on the lowest speed, add the flour mixture and beat until just a few streaks of flour remain. Mix by hand with a flexible spatula until the flour is just incorporated.
- Divide the dough into 4 portions (about 6 ounces each). Place 1 portion between 2 sheets of parchment paper (the same size as a baking sheet) and roll out as thin as you can. Slide the dough, still between parchment, onto a baking sheet and refrigerate or freeze. Repeat rolling out the remaining portions of dough, stacking them on top of the first portion. Refrigerate or freeze until the dough is firm, at least 30 minutes if refrigerated or 15 minutes if frozen (or up to overnight — wrap the baking sheet in plastic wrap first).
- Place one sheet of dough on a work surface and remove the top parchment. Cut out cookies with a 2 1/2-inch wide cookie cutter, spacing them about 1/4-inch apart. Do not remove the scraps. Using a 1-inch cookie cutter, cut the middles out of only half the cookies. Again, do not separate the cookies or remove the scraps. Replace the top sheet of parchment. Slide the sheet of cookies back onto the baking sheet in the refrigerator or freezer, placing it at the bottom.
- Repeat cutting shapes out of the remaining 3 sheets of dough. Refrigerate or freeze until the dough is firm again, about 30 minutes if refrigerated and 15 minutes if frozen. Meanwhile, arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350ºF.
- Place one sheet of dough on a work surface and remove the top parchment. Using your fingers or a paring knife, detach and remove the scraps that surround the cookies, and remove the scraps from the center cut outs. Set the scraps aside. Slide the cookies, still on the parchment, onto a baking sheet.
- Bake the cookies until they darken and are firm to the touch, 6 to 8 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. Repeat separating and baking the remaining sheets of cookies, using cooled baking sheets for each batch.
- Gather the dough scraps and form into a ball. Re-roll between 2 sheets of parchment. Refrigerate or freeze again until firm before cutting more shapes out and baking.
- If you mistakenly pull the cookies out of the oven too early and they are a tad bendy, bake them for a few extra minutes (they are very forgiving), as you want them to be crispy and stiff. You can even do this the next day if you choose to wait to fill them and they soften overnight.
- Flip the cookies without the cutouts over, then spread about 1 teaspoon blackberry jam onto each of those cookies. Arrange the cookies with the cutouts next to each other and dust generously with powdered sugar. Place a powdered sugar cookie onto each bottom half to make a sandwich cookie.
Storage: The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.