In a large mixing bowl or in the bowl of an electric stand mixer with a paddle attachment beat butter until well softened and spread around the bowl. Add the sugar and cream for 3 to 5 minutes until pale and fluffy. Add the egg and beat on low for one minute. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl. Beat in the molasses on low speed until well incorporated.
In a large bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. Add the dry ingredients in two batches to the butter and molasses mixture, beating on low speed to incorporate. When the remaining flour is almost completely mixed in, stop the mixer and fold in the Cosmic Crisp® apple pieces.
Divide the dough between three pieces of parchment paper, wrap and refrigerate overnight.
I found it easiest to roll the chilled dough between two pieces of well-floured parchment paper. Roll to a thick ¼-inch and use apple, star and Christmas tree cookie cutters to cut out cookie shapes. Use a floured offset spatula to lift the cookies onto parchment lined baking sheets.
The cut cookies can be difficult to transfer to the baking sheet the warmer the dough gets so feel free to pop it back in the refrigerator to rechill if you find yourself fighting the dough. Reroll cookie dough to make as many cookies as possible.
If making the cookies for ornaments, use the blunt end of a skewer to make holes towards the top of the cookie shape.
Before baking, paint each cookie with egg yolk paint using clean artist brushes.
Place racks in the center and upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the cookies appear dry and firmed and just barley turning brown around the edges. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the pan for 10 minutes. While the cookies are still warm, use the skewer to remake the ornament holes if they’ve baked closed. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely before stringing or eating.
Egg Yolk Paint: In a small bowl whisk together one egg yolk and a squirt of red, yellow, or green food coloring. Thin the mixture with a few drops of water if necessary. For brown yolk pain (for the apple stem) mix together equal parts red and green paint in a small bowl.