December 24th – I have to say that cardamom was not one of my favorite spices. Until recently I really didn’t know what to do with it. The jar in my cabinet, filled with a brownish-grey ground powder sat there for years and smelled more like medicine than spice. Then, thanks to a wonderful restaurant nearby I developed a penchant for Indian food. Cardamon is a staple in that cuisine.
I realized that fresh cardamom is deliciously warm and sweet with a slightly spicy fragrance, exotic yet somewhat familiar and comforting in a cinnamon-like way. So when I saw this recipe for cardamom cookies in the Washington Post I just had to try it.
I bought green cardamom at my favorite Asian store, then cracked the pods with a knife and took out the little brown/black seeds. It was a great family fun as my daughter’s little fingers were perfect for getting at the tiny seeds. Then we ground the seeds in the coffee grinder and viola! Fresh cardamom! WARNING – fresh cardamom is intense so a little goes a long way. The original recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of cardamom, but with the fresh, that was too strong, so I reduced the amount to 1 1/2.
Keep this in mind when you’re buying cardamom too. A small bag of green cardamom pods cost me $6, but I used only about 1/3 to ¼ of the bag yielding about 5 or 6 teaspoons ground.
Cardamom is great in black tea too. Make a big pot of black tea, throw in a small amount of cardamom seeds and whole cloves, add a bit of sugar, heat, then mix in some cream or milk – spiced Indian-style tea.
That’s next on my list to try.
Cardamom-Brown Sugar Snickerdoodles
Adapted from Joe Yonan’s: Serve Yourself: Nightly Adventures in Cooking for One
The cookies are soft and sweet like a cardamom-spiced sugar cookie and hard to resist.
Makes about 60 cookies
MAKE AHEAD: The dough needs to be refrigerated for about 1 hour. The cookies can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for about 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months.
• 2 3/4 cups flour
• 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground cardamom
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
• 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar (not packed)
• 2 large eggs
• 1/3 cup granulated sugar, for rolling
Sift together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, 1 teaspoon of the cardamom and the salt in a large bowl.
Cream the butter and brown sugar together in a bowl. When butter-sugar mixture is light and fluffy beat in eggs one at a time until incorporated. I like to do this by hand for a few reasons. I hate dirtying more things than I have to and burning the extra calories is good for you. I also get a better feel for when the butter and cream is light and fluffy.
But for those of you not so inclined you can use a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer. Beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Increase the speed to high and beat until very light and fluffy, 2 or 3 minutes, stopping a couple of times to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Reduce the speed to medium and beat in the eggs, one at a time. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Once mixed add about one-third of the dry ingredients; beat until well mixed. Repeat two more times, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed, until the dry ingredients are incorporated. You will have to switch to a rubber spatula.
Cover and refrigerate dough for about an hour, until firm. It will be firm.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.
Stir together the granulated sugar and remaining 1/2 teaspoon of cardamom in a medium bowl. Use a #100 disher (a 3/4-tablespoon scoop) or a tablespoon to scoop small balls of dough and roll into a ball, a few at a time. Place in sugar-cardamom mixture, then roll the pieces to coat them in sugar pressing the sugar mixture into the dough. This is good for kids – my daughter loved it.. Arrange the cookies 2 inches apart on each baking sheet.
Bake two sheets at a time for 5 minutes, then rotate the baking sheets top to bottom and front to back. Bake for 4 to 6 minutes, until the tops of the cookies are crackled and the edges are just barely browned. Transfer to a wire rack to cool before serving or storing. Repeat to use all of the dough.