Snappy and light yet sturdy, these Finnish gingerbread cutouts deliver the happiness of the holiday season.
• 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
• 9 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons molasses
• 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
• 3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom, preferably freshly ground
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
• 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
• 1 teaspoon orange zest, finely grated
• 1 egg plus 1 egg white
• 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
• Butter or cooking oil, for greasing the baking sheets
• Raw sugar, for decorating
Heat the sugar, butter, molasses, spices, pepper and orange zest over medium heat, constantly stirring until the sugar dissolves, about 4-5 minutes. Pour into a large bowl and cool until tepid, about 20 minutes.
Add the whole egg, salt and baking soda, and beat well to combine. Add half the flour and beat until barely combined. Add the remaining flour and beat until barely combined. The dough should be sticky but manageable; if it is too wet, add a little flour. Form into a large ball and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Divide the dough in two. Place one half on a floured work surface, and sprinkle a little flour on top. With a floured rolling pin, roll dough to between 1/16 and 1/18-inch thick. Sprinkle flour on work surface as needed to prevent sticking.
Cut into shapes with cookie cutters. Arrange about 1/2-inch apart on a greased baking sheet. Beat egg white with 1/4 cup water and lightly brush on the cookies. Sprinkle with raw sugar. Bake 8-10 minutes, until cookies begin to darken around the edges. Let cool on sheet for 1 minute before transferring to racks to cool. Gather leftover dough, roll it out again, and continue to cut out and bake the remaining dough.
Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes, plus chilling; makes about 7 dozen medium cookies.