Sunday, December 23, 2007

Spice Cookies

Holiday cookies can be troublesome and time consuming. And frankly I am not sure if Santa even likes them. He probably picks the best, eats those select few and leaves your sad pathetic sugar cookies with the sack of coal he left for you. ( I obviously think Santa is quite the gourmand.) So, in order to get the gifts you deserve, entice him with some of these spice cookies. For these holiday cookies, the recipe was given to me and taught by my grandmother, and this year, my mother and I spent the night making these delicious, wafer spiced cookies. These cookies are based off of the Swedish ginger cookies called pepparkakor; they are very fragrant, spiced, with ginger, cardamom, cinnamon and cloves recalling the scents and smells of the holiday season. They are wafer like and crispy and keep you wanting more. Yes, they are difficult, but I know you are up for the challenge and guess what, after you make them you can sip on a cup up of tea and enjoy the fruits of your labor, in this case the cookies of your labor. These cookies can make great holiday gifts because they hold up well. You can shape them into little men, even porcupines if you wish. And they are quite versatile: you could serve them with ice cream, put caramel between them and make sandwiches or decorate them with royal icing.

Spiced Cookies
Makes 8-10 dozen cookies

1 cup butter (softened)
1 cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 egg
½ cup cream
1/3 cup honey mixed with 2 ½ tablespoons of mollases
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. cloves
2 tsp. ginger
2 tsp. freshly ground cardamom seeds
1 tsp. baking soda
3 ½ cups flour

Preheat oven to 350
Sift dry ingredients, including flour, baking soda, and the spices and set aside.
Cream butter and sugars, both white and brown, till light and fluffy. Then add the egg and then the cream and then the honey/molasses mixing well after each addition.
Incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet and mix thoroughly. Cover bowl tightly and chill in refrigerator over night.
Take out small portions of dough and roll the ball out on a lightly floured surface. Roll dough out very thin and cut into desired shapes (I like ridged circles or plain circles).
Place on a lightly greased cookie sheets and bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes

Abby’s Suggestions and Tips:
Freshly ground cardamom is far superior for making the cookies spicier and fresh tasting.
In order to do this, buy whole cardamom pods, take a rolling pin and crush the pods. The pods will open, revealing the black seeds inside. Take the seeds and grind them either with a mortar and pestle or with a coffee grinder.
If this is too much work, no worries: simply purchase ground cardamom (I won’t judge and neither will the cookies)
Also I substituted the dark corn syrup my grandmother used for a healthier and more flavorful option, which is the honey/molasses combination. It adds a honey flavor and a deep rich flavor of molasses. But if you do not have these ingredients readily available and do have dark corn syrup, use ½ cup.
Make sure the dough is sufficiently chilled before rolling. This will avoid stickiness and make it more manageable. I recommend keeping it in the fridge while rolling out a section.
Rolling out the dough is the most challenging part. So BEWARE. Follow my 5 golden rolling rules and you will lead to cookie success.
1. They will be sticky so have flour on hand. But don’t use more than absolutely necessary, otherwise the cookies will taste floury.
2. Be gentle with the rolling pin, use gentle strokes. Trust me!
3. Use small amounts of dough when you are rolling it out, it will be more manageable.
4. Use a metal spatula to lift the cookies off the rolling surface and on to the cookie sheet.
5. Make sure to roll them out as thin as possible, these cookies were meant to be thin and crispy.

ENJOY and you will be rewarded both by Santa and your taste buds!

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