I first tried these cookies when my friend Melanie made them. The original recipe came from Sara Perry, with Bon Appétit. She made hers in the shape of trees, which makes sense, with the juniper glaze. But since Melanie first made them as ducks, I have carried on the tradition. It wouldn't be holiday baking in my household without a batch of ginger ducks! I use local spicebush berries in mine, for a distinctive flavor. If you don't have it, allspice is great, too.
Check out this video featured in our Scraping the Bowl 2021 holiday baking series.
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground spice berry (or allspice)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup (packed) brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup half and half
1/3 cup (1 ounce) juniper berries, lightly crushed
1/2 pound powdered sugar
Combine first 6 ingredients in medium bowl and set aside. Beat butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer until fluffy. Add molasses and beat until fully combined. Add dry ingredients and beat on low until fully combined. bring the dough together with your hands, divide into 2 pieces and shape into disks. Wrap or store in an airtight container and chill for 2 hours or more.
Now is a good time to start the glaze, so that it has time to chill.
Once the dough is chilled, preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Roll one disk of dough disk to 1/8-inch thickness. Using the cookie cutter of your choice (preferably duck shaped), cut out cookies. Transfer to the baking sheet. Gather scraps; chill and repeat until most of the dough is used.
Bake the cookies 10-12 minutes or until almost firm in the center. Leave the cookies on the sheet for 2 minutes, then cool on racks. Repeat, using all of the dough. You can store the unglazed cookies in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days or freeze up to 2 weeks.
After lightly crushing the juniper berries, combine with the half and half and bring to a simmer in a small saucepan. Cover and chill for 5 hours. Strain with a fine mesh sieve.
Place powdered sugar in bowl. Whisk in the juniper-infused half and half a tablespoon at a time until glaze is spreadable. Spread the glaze thinly over each cooled cookie. Let stand until glaze sets.
Once the cookies are glazed, store them in an airtight container. It is best to serve (or gift them) within a couple of days.