I baked these this morning as a thank you gift for my former co-worker neighbor and friend who catsits for us now and then. I found the recipe in one of my Maida Heatter cookbooks, Maida Heatter’s Brand-New Book of Great Cookies. Do you know Maida Heatter? I wish I knew her in person. In fact, I wish she was my next-door-neighbor and that she would invite me over for a glass of wine while she baked cookies for us; I know we’d have the best talks. Perhaps I’m just missing a mother figure in my life, but if you read her cookbooks, you might feel the same way. She comes across as someone you’d be better off for knowing, and not just for the free baked goods.
If you like to bake, you must look up Maida’s books. I don’t think I’ve ever been disappointed with one of her recipes. Quite the opposite. I think her recipes are magic.
Craig Claiborne’s Cardamom Cookies
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom (green or bleached, green has a little more flavor; Maida recommends you grind your own, but I didn’t do that this time)
2-1/4 cups sifted unbleached flour
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 packed cup light brown sugar
1 egg graded large
Adjust a rack to the middle of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with baking parchment or aluminum foil, shiny side up; set aside. Sift together the flour and cream of tartar; set aside. In the small or large bowl of an electric mixer beat the butter until soft. Add the ground cardomom, baking soda, and salt; beat to mix. Beat in the sugar, then the egg. Finally, on low speed, add the sifted dry ingredients and beat until incorporated. Flour a pastry cloth and a rolling pin. Work with half the dough at a time. Roll out the dough until it is 1/4″ thick. Cut with a round cookie cutter. Place the cookies 1-1/2″ apart on the lined sheets. Bake one sheet at a time for about 10 minutes (mine needed a couple of minutes longer), reversing the sheet front to back once after 5 minutes. The cookies will rise and puff up during baking, and then they will begin to settle down a bit just when they are done. When done, they will be a light-golden honey color all over. With a wide metal spatula transfer to racks to cool; when cool, store in an airtight container.
The spool cookies are fun, aren’t they? I bought the cutter from Foose Tinsmithing. I just wrapped them with baker’s twine for the photo. I did include one twine-wrapped spool with the other cookies in the gift box, but I made sure my friend knew the twine wasn’t edible! Guess what? She was making a Craig Claiborne recipe for dinner, a curry sauce in fact. I think the cardamom cookies will make a nice dessert with that.
I didn’t plan to use the spool cutter for these cookies. I tried something else I’d seen in one of Maida’s cookie books, but it didn’t work out with this dough. I used the top of a turkey baster (bulb removed) to cut a small circle from a larger circle of dough. These “holes”, as it turns out, bake up crispy and delicious. Plus they are a lot of fun to eat. You just have to whack the dough out of the baster each time you use it to make a cut, but I think it’s well worth the trouble.