- In a large bowl, using a fork, stir flour with spices and baking soda. In a medium bowl, using a wooden spoon, beat butter with sugar for 2 min. Beat in egg, then molasses. Make a well in centre of fl our mixture, then pour in molasses mixture. Stir until most of molasses is absorbed. Gently knead until dough is an even colour. Divide into 4 portions.
- Shape each into a ball, then flatten slightly into a disc . Wrap separately with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 30 min or up to a week. Or overwrap with foil and freeze up to 1 month.
- When ready to bake, remove dough from refrigerator. Let stand at room temperature until soft enough to roll, 5 to 10 min. Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Lightly spray or oil a baking sheet. Place a disc of dough between 2 sheets of waxed paper. Roll dough no thicker than ¼ in. (0.5 cm). Cut out shapes with cookie cutter. Place on baking sheet about 1 in. (2.5 cm) apart.
- Bake in centre of preheated oven just until edges begin to darken, 7 to 10 min. Remove cookies to a rack to cool. Repeat with remaining dough. Store in an airtight container in a cool place up to 1 week or freeze up to 1 month.
Prepare dough. Roll 1 tbsp (15 mL) dough into a 1-in. (2.5-cm) ball. Place on a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough. Refrigerate until cold, about 15 min. Roll cold balls in 1/4 cup (50 mL) sugar in a small bowl, then in 1/4 cup (50 mL) icing sugar in another bowl. Return to oiled baking sheet, placing 1 in. (2.5 cm) apart. Bake until tops are firm and cracked, 12 to 14 min. Makes 35.
Stir 1/2 cup (125 mL) cocoa into flour mixture. Prepare dough. Roll 1 heaping tsp (7 mL) into a 1/2-in. (1-cm) ball. Place on a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough. Refrigerate until cold, about 15 min. Place 1/4 cup (50 mL) sugar in a small bowl. In another small bowl, stir 1/4 cup (50 mL) icing sugar with 1 tbsp (15 mL) cocoa. Roll cold balls in granulated sugar, then in cocoa mixture. Return to oiled baking sheet, placing 1 in. (2.5 cm) apart. Bake until tops of cookies are firm, 7 to 9 min. Makes 70.
Stir 1 tbsp (15 mL) instant-espresso powder into flour mixture along with spices but omit allspice. Continue as in main recipe. Cut out 2-in. (5-cm) rounds with a scalloped cookie cutter. Top each with a chocolate-covered espresso bean or almond. Bake until edges begin to darken, 7 to 10 min. Makes 52.
Stir 2 tbsp (30 mL) finely chopped pecans into flour mixture. In place of molasses, add 1/4 cup (50 mL) honey. Continue as in main recipe. With a cookie cutter, cut out shapes. Top each with a pecan. Bake until edges start to darken, 7 to 10 min. Makes 60.