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Spiced Cardamom Cookies

When richly spiced cardamom cookies, scented with allspice and cloves, are pressed with wood-grain and scallop patterns and cut into the shapes of trees and reindeer, they create a charming woodland fantasy in each box.

  • yield: Makes 60 assorted trees and reindeer or 108 small stars

Ingredients

  • 5 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces and softened
  • 1 cup dark-brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream, room temperature
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Cook's Note

We used an assortment of holiday cutters for these crunchy cookies, which are a cross between a gingerbread cookie and an animal cracker. The dough should be made the day before you plan to bake the cookies.

Directions

  1. Step 1

    Whisk flour, baking soda, salt, cardamom, allspice, pepper, and cloves in a large bowl. Place butter in a mixer bowl. Bring sugars, corn syrup, and water to a boil in a large saucepan, stirring until sugar dissolves. Pour hot sugar mixture over butter, then beat on low speed until combined.

  2. Step 2

    Beat cream, egg, and vanilla in a bowl, then add to butter mixture. Beat on medium speed until well combined.

  3. Step 3

    Reduce speed to low, and add flour mixture, beating until just incorporated. Divide dough into thirds, and flatten each into a disk. Wrap each disk in plastic, and refrigerate overnight (or freeze for up to 1 month; thaw in the refrigerator).

  4. Step 4

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out 1 disk between lightly floured parchment to 1/8-inch thickness. Alternatively, the dough can be rolled out to 1/16-inch thickness for a crisper cookie. Place a lightly floured plastic faux-bois mat (available from Chinese Clay Art) on dough, pattern side down. With rolling pin, lightly roll over mat to imprint dough. Carefully remove mat. Transfer dough on parchment to a baking sheet, and refrigerate until firm, about 10 minutes. Repeat with remaining disks.

  5. Step 5

    Cut out shapes with holiday cookie cutters. (Alternatively, use tree template: Copy onto card stock, enlarging 200 percent. Cut out, place over dough, and cut along edge with the tip of a paring knife.) Transfer cookies to parchment-lined baking sheets, grouping similar sizes together and spacing them 1 inch apart. Roll out and cut scraps once. Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until edges are golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. (If making small cookies, start checking after 8 minutes.) Transfer to wire racks, and let cool. Cookies will keep, covered, for up to 2 weeks.

Source
Martha Stewart Living, December 2008

Reviews (19)

  • 6 Sep, 2010

    Love, love LOVE these! Easy and forgiving dough to shape, interesting and playful to make, keep well, ship well, GREAT taste and smell, batch makes a large amount. The PERFECT Christmas cookie. I ship 160 dozen cookies to family and friends each year, and these are a great addition to the selection of cookies sent.

  • 12 Dec, 2009

    I made these last year, and they were wonderful! I plan on making them again for 2009. They take a bit of effort, but the beauty and taste are worth it!

  • 10 Mar, 2009

    These are incredible. I make them very thin and crisp. I've served them to guests, who all agreed they are addictive.

  • 10 Mar, 2009

    These are incredible. I make them very thin and crisp. I've served them to guests, who all agreed they are addictive.

  • 20 Dec, 2008

    The method of combining this recipe is interesting and fun. The dough works nicely once it is well chilled. Flavor is intriguing. I am thinking of using honey to replace the sugars and corn syrup. I over cooked mine but they were fine.

  • 16 Dec, 2008

    I'm Swedish, so LOVE cardamom! These cookies are wonderful. I have a cookie cutter that looks like a wind-blown cedar tree. I used it for these, brushed them with a thin glaze, and sprinkled them with pearl sugar for 'snow.' Classy looking. Thanks for a terrific recipe.

  • 16 Dec, 2008

    I ordered the rubbery mats for the designs from the Chinese Clay Art site. I got everything Martha used. I ordered one day and received it the very next day! Excellent company to order from..check it out..it has a bunch of fun things!

  • 15 Dec, 2008

    I used organic rice syrup in place of the dark corn syrup and they turned out delicious. They are about the same color as the photo above.

  • 10 Dec, 2008

    thanks sooo much for the help. i do hope to get around to making them when i get the tree up and decorations sorted! once again thanks, merry christmas

  • 9 Dec, 2008

    Dark corn syrup is thinner, sweeter, and less flavorful than treacle. Golden syrup would probably be the best substitute. Honey would taste good but might make the cookies too soft and/or make them brown too fast. A cup of flour weighs about 120g.

    You might also think about using the same wood-graining technique on the speculaas recipe from earlier in the week, if you can get the ingredients for that one. It's a similar texture, so it should behave much the same way.

  • 9 Dec, 2008

    Dark corn syrup is thinner, sweeter, and less flavorful than treacle. Golden syrup would probably be the best substitute. Honey would taste good but might make the cookies too soft and/or make them brown too fast. A cup of flour weighs about 120g.

    You might also think about using the same wood-graining technique on the speculaas recipe from earlier in the week, if you can get the ingredients for that one. It's a similar texture, so it should behave much the same way.

  • 9 Dec, 2008

    hi i wonder if anybody could tell me if dark corn syrup is treacle or golden syrup because i live in northern ireland UK and we dont have corn syrup here. Also if you could tell me how much a cup of flour is in lb/oz or gms. many thanks jc

  • 8 Dec, 2008

    I think the beauty of this cookie and the feeling the wood grain invokes just begs for molasses.

  • 8 Dec, 2008

    Maybe you could try honey instead of the dark karo syrup??

  • 8 Dec, 2008

    If you google "clay texture mats," you can find them for 25-50% less on other art supply websites. Check your local art supply or teacher supply stores, too. There are also clay texture *sheets* that you can find where polymer clay is sold; they're not as handy a shape and a less durable material, but they would work and they're usually priced around $3.99 for a set of 4 different textures.

  • 8 Dec, 2008

    Ditto the comments as a Cardamon Cookie being favorite! ??? - any suggestions on what to use as a replacement for Dark Corn Syrup? Also faux-bois mats - yes way to pricey! I potted for many years

  • 8 Dec, 2008

    Cardamom is one of my favorite spices, as well. These cookies are fantastic.

  • 8 Dec, 2008

    Just visited the Chinese Clay Art site. Click on clay toolls, scroll down to texture mats. The item is #PA-01b; however, they are quite pricy.

  • 8 Dec, 2008

    Intriguing. Cardamom is one of my favorite spices.