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~ Spicy Groundhog Cookies for Punxsutawney Phil ~

PICT2037Tomorrow is Groundhog Day.  Will Phil see his shadow?  Tradition says:  if he sees his shadow on a bright, sunlit day, we're going to have six more weeks of Winter, and, he goes back to his burrow and returns to sleep.  If he doesn't see his shadow on a dark, gloomy day, it means Spring is right around the corner, and he stays above ground.  If this seems odd, it is worth mentioning that the custom of predicting the weather based on animal behavior dates back at least a thousand years.  In more recent American history, it is attributed to our first German Settlers.  In their homeland, farmers watched for a hibernating hedgehog to come out and make the forecast. When they arrived in the new land, they had to rely upon the American groundhog.

20517793_clipartIn Punxsutawney, PA, Groundhog Day is big deal.  All sorts of community events are planned and it's a school holiday for the kids. The town fills up with tourists, as many as 30,000, arriving as early as 3:00AM (EST).  Everyone makes a pilgrimage to Gobbler's Knob, where the famous groundhog Punxsutawney Phil resides.  Phil is one special groundhog indeed.  He lives in a first-class terrarium and is cared for year-round by the town's Groundhog Club.  The club's hierarchy is referred to as "The Inner Circle", and they are easily recognized by their tuxedos and top hats.  Over the years, Phil has made guest appearances on Oprah, the CBS early show and CNN.  In 1986 he got invited and went to Washington, D.C., to pay President Reagan a visit.  Phil, an avid Steeler's fan, can be found wearing a Terrible Towel to celebrate the teams Superbowl victories.  The Pennsylvania Lottery, in their advertising campaign, uses their own Gus the groundhog, in a most complimentary way, touting Gus as "the second most famous groundhog in Pennsylvania".

Enhanced-buzz-531-1296586956-17There's a Groundhog Day movie too!  Directed by Harold Ramis and released in 1993, this comedy is about a self-centered meteorologist (Bill Murray), news producer (Andie MacDowell) and cameraman (Chris Elliott) from a fictional Pittsburgh TV station (WPBH-TV9).  The three travel to Punxsutawney to cover the festivities and meet the famous Phil. As the plot unfolds, the meteorologist finds himself doomed to repeating the same day of his life, Groundhog Day, over and over again.  The above picture is taken from the scene where Phil Conners (Bill Murray) is kidnapping Phil the groundhog!  I for one watch this movie every year to celebrate the holiday.

PICT1944Today, just in the nick of time, I received my official Groundhog Day care package from Punxsutawney Phil's official groundhog store and site:  

Headquarters sent me my official recipe sheet, three different sizes of groundhog-shaped cookie cutters, plus, an official groundhog headband!  I'm ready to start baking Spicy Groundhogs:

PICT19492  cups sifted flour, measure after sifting

1  teaspoon baking powder

1/2  teaspoon baking soda

1/2  teaspoon salt

1 1/2  teaspoons ground cinnamon

1  teaspoon ground cloves

1  teaspoon ground ginger

1/2  cup butter, at room temperature, very soft (1 stick)

1  cup sugar

1/2  cup full-flavor molasses

1  large egg yolk

currants, 1 per cookie, to decoratively give each Spicy Groundhog an eye

granulated sugar, for rolling cookies

PICT1952~ Step 1.  This recipe calls for "2 cups sifted flour".  That means sift before measuring.  This is different than instructions that read "2 cups flour, sifted".  Why?  Sifting aerates the flour, adding volume to it.  When measured, the latter contains more flour.  That being said:

In a small bowl sift two cups of flour. Measure and place two cups of the sifted flour in a medium mixing bowl. Return the remaining flour back to the bag or canister. 

PICT1959~ Step 2.  Add the baking powder, baking soda, salt, ground cinnamon, cloves and ginger to the sifted flour. Using a whisk, thoroughly combine the flour and spice mixture.  Set aside.






~ Step 3.  In a large mixing bowl, on high speed of hand-held electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy, about one minute.  Lower the mixer speed and thoroughly blend in the molasses and egg yolk.    





~ Step 4.  Using a large rubber spatula, gradually blend in the flour mixture, scraping down the sides of the mixing bowl frequently with a large rubber spatula.  A thick, dense, manageable, hand-kneadable dough will have formed.





~ Step 5.  Divide the dough into four equal discs, about 4" round and 3/4" thick.  If you have a kitchen scale, each one will weigh 7 ounces.  Wrap each disc in plastic wrap and chill thoroughly, 4-6 hours or overnight.

~ Step 6.  When you are ready to start rolling, line a large, 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan with parchment paper and place it in the refrigerator. 


~ Step 7.  Remove first disc of dough from refrigerator and set aside for about 6 minutes.  Unwrap and place on a lightly sugared pastry board.  Cover with a piece of wax paper.  Slowly roll to a thickness of about 1/8", no thinner. This large-sized groundhog cookie cutter will yield 4 cookies from each disc, or, the size I am making today. Cut the dough into 4 cookies.

PICT1986~ Step 8.  Using a thin spatula, transfer the four cookies to the chilled pan and return the pan to the refrigerator.  Repeat this process two more times, placing 12 cookies on the refrigerated pan.  Do not discard any of the scraps of dough. Place 1 currant on each cookie, to decoratively form Phil's eye on each one.



~ Step 9.  Bake on center rack of preheated oven, about 10 minutes. Cool on pan about 2 minutes prior to transferring to cooling rack to cool completely.  Return the parchment-lined pan to the refrigerator to chill again.



~ Step 10.  Remove the remaining disc of dough from the refrigerator, roll it out, and place the 4 cookies on the chilled pan.  Gather up all of the cookie dough scrapes, briefly knead them together and place 1" balls of dough on the pan with the remaining 4 groundhog cookies. You will have about 12, additional balls of dough.

Do not flatten balls. Bake and cool as directed.

PICT2011Spicy Groundhog Cookies for Punxsutawney Phil:  Recipe makes 16 large cookies, or, about 2 dozen medium-sized cookies, or, about three dozen small cookies.  Recipe also yields about 12 additional round cookies, made from scraps of dough.

Special Equipment List:  fine mesh strainer or flour sifter; whisk; hand-held electric mixer; large rubber spatula; plastic wrap; wax paper; rolling pin; pastry board; 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan; parchment paper; cooling rack

Cook's Note:  This is the official recipe of Punxsutawney Phil's Official Souvenir Shop and I couldn't have been more pleased with it.  These cookies are groundhog wonderful!  I have not changed creator Elaine Light's ingredients list in any notable way.  I've just photographed the process and blogged about my funtastic experience, which was groundhog wonderful!  To purchase groundhog-shaped cookie cutters and all sorts of other Groundhog Day memorabilia: Groundhog Stuff Link!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2012) 


Good Morning Joy -- Thanks for catching that error. I changed (corrected) the yield from 12 to 16 at the end of the post. The first 12 are put on the pan to bake (Step 8), then, the last 4 go on to bake with the round cookies made from the scraps of dough (Step 10), so, the instructions were fine. Great to hear from a fellow groundhog cookie baker!

I love these cookies! Before i retired from the classroom, I made them every year for my students and colleague. Always a big hit. A little observation (perhaps a 'teacher thing' but English was my subject, not math-- Anyway, you divide the dough into 4 7 oz. discs. Each ball yields 4 large ground hogs. 4 X 4 = 16, not 12. Not that it matter a whole lot, but still....

Jeff -- What a nice gift to a friend with a February 2nd birthday! You make Phil proud!!!

I make these cookies every year.. I bake a coupla' dozen for a friend who now lives in South Carolina and her Birthday is on the 2nd and mail them to her. I even bake them and pass them out in church on the Sunday before Groung Hog Day. Everyone loves them,

Maggie! You made my day with your comment! I'll be thinking about you tomorrow. There is a Fraternal Order of Groundhogs? What does one need to do to join?

Have made this recipe in abundance yearly for the "Great Day". One year made 12 dozen. Everyone loves them at the Mansfield burrow. Go Fraternal Order of Groundhogs. Hog, Hog, Hog!!!! Maggie Garrett Hog of the Year 1995


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