Artos Bread Seal St. Nicholas Icon Cookies
A good number of Episcopal churches in California use traditional Orthodox bread seals to make large, special, icon image cookies for Saint Nicholas Day.
I’ve adapted the recipe for Dutch spice Speculaas Koejkes for use with artos seals.
2 cups brown sugar
1 ½ cups butter or regular margarine (Imperial makes a nice, easy to handle dough)
3 ½–4+ cups flour (you will probably need the larger amount)
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp salt, scant
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¾ teaspoon cloves
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon allspice
½ teaspoon ginger
Granulated sugar, for dipping mold
Cream butter and sugar. Add remaining ingredients and mix, adding enough flour to form a very stiff dough.
Thoroughly chill dough (best to make a day before baking).
Spray mold with non-stick cooking spray. Form a ball with about ½-cup of dough, flatten slightly and place on cookie sheet.
Dip sprayed mold in sugar (have sugar in shallow bowl or plate). Press mold down on dough, pressing evenly on the mold itself, around the knob (do not press on just the knob as that may break the mold).
Lift the mold off the dough—the mold comes free quite easily. I tipped it slightly rather than pulling straight up. Repeat with remaining dough. Be sure to leave plenty of room for the cookies to spread a bit (if they are too close and run into each other the image will be distorted).
If the mold begins to stick, clean off bits of dough and spray again. Five cookies will fit on a large cookie sheet.
Bake at 350º F. for 15 to 18 minutes. Place on wire rack to cool (a large round metal spatula helps when taking cookies off the baking sheet).
Makes 10 large (6-6½-inch) cookies. Store in sealed container to retain crispness. To distribute, wrap each cookie in plastic wrap or put in a bag, tie with a ribbon and a card telling about St. Nicholas.