To make the owl shape, you can either use your own owl-shaped cookie cutter or our template.
- 6 cups sifted all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
- 4 teaspoons ground ginger
- 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon finely ground pepper
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup unsulfured molasses
- Royal Icing
- Black, yellow, and blue liquid food coloring
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and baking powder; set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add ginger, cinnamon, cloves, salt, and pepper. Beat to combine. Add eggs, and beat to combine, then beat in molasses. Reduce speed to low; add flour mixture, and beat to combine. Divide dough in half, and shape into flattened disks, wrap in plastic, and chill for at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with Silpats. Generously flour a large piece of parchment, and roll one piece of dough out on the parchment into a 1/8-inch-thick rectangle, about 14 by 10 inches. Transfer to the freezer to chill for 15 minutes. Repeat rolling and chilling process with the remaining piece of dough.
Remove one piece of dough from freezer. Using a large owl cookie cutter or our template, cut out a cookie and transfer to prepared baking sheet. Using a 3/4-inch cookie cutter cut out eyes from scraps. Using the small end of a 1/2-inch round pastry tip, cut out center of each eye, creating rings. Place on cookie. Return cookie to freezer to chill, about 15 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough. The scraps can be rerolled once.
Bake until edges are golden, about 12 minutes, rotating halfway through. Using a pizza cutter or a sharp knife, cut cookies into desired puzzle shapes. Leaving intact, transfer baking sheets to wire racks until cool.
Divide royal icing among four bowls, and tint one batch black, one yellow, and one blue; leave one white. Decorate cooled cookies with royal icing using the #1, #3, and #4 round Ateco tips. Separate the puzzle pieces once the cookies are decorated, but before the icing hardens.