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Sandra Mahoney's Brandy Gingersnaps

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Sandra Mahoney, pastry chef at Sandrine's in Harvard Square, bakes between 1,500 and 2,000 cookies. Some will be her mother's brandy gingersnaps.

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup molasses
1 tablespoon apricot brandy
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice or ground cinnamon
Pinch salt
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
Confectioners' Sugar Icing (recipe follows)

In a small saucepan, combine the butter, sugar, and molasses. Cook over medium heat until the butter melts and the mixture comes to a boil; adjust heat and boil 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the brandy. Pour into a mixing bowl and cool about 30 minutes. Add the pumpkin pie spice, salt, and about half the flour and beat until blended. Gradually beat in the remaining flour. Cover and refrigerate until stiff enough to roll, at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Divide the dough in half; on a floured surface, roll out one piece to about 1/8 inch thick. Cut into shapes as desired, place about 1 inch apart (they spread very little) on lightly greased cookie sheets, and bake 8 to 10 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. Cool on cookie sheets a few minutes; transfer to wire racks to cool. Repeat with remaining dough. Decorate with Confectioners' Sugar Icing.

Makes 3 dozen or more cookies, depending on size.

Confectioners' Sugar Icing

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
3 to 4 tablespoons heavy cream

In a large bowl, cream the butter. Gradually beat in the sugar. Gradually add the cream and beat until smooth and thin enough to pipe. Add more sugar or cream if necessary. Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a small plain tip or to a small Ziploc bag. Cut a small slit at one corner of the bag to pipe icing onto the cookies.

Makes about 3/4 cup.

By Jean Kressy, Globe Correspondent

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