For someone who reads a lot of news, I’m kind of slow on the trends (I only just “discovered” Lady Gaga a month ago). Take this cardamom thing. I started seeing cardamom – an herbal spice that I most closely associate with chai tea – popping up in recipes a couple of years ago. And then it seemed like everywhere I turned, there was cardamom on cocktail menus, or in gelato flavors, or in recipes at cooking classes. And yet, even though the cardamom “thing” is so “on” that it’s probably already “over,” this is the first time I’ve actually used the spice in one of my recipes.
The only reason I even used cardamom at all is that out I was out of cinnamon, which I use in everything and which I keep forgetting to buy (like, I’ve consistently forgotten to buy for the last month. Lord). See, I wanted to make ginger cookies for a secret project that I’ll be talking about tomorrow. But I didn’t want to make a plain old gingerbread cookie – this is summer, after all, not Christmas time. So I subbed in honey for the molasses in a gingerbread cookie recipe, to give the cookies a more delicate flavor. When it came time to add the spices, I reached for my non-existent jar of cinnamon and realized I’d have to make a substitution. “Well, what about Cardamom?” I thought. It smelled lovely, and I knew that ginger and cardamom were often paired together. So I took the plunge.
It was exactly the kick that the cookies needed – the cardamom adds a floral note that balances the spice of the ginger, and helps bring out the mellow sweetness of the honey. The cookies are soft and slightly chewy, with just a little bit of bite around the edges. They’re a lovely cookie for summer, especially with a tall glass of iced tea. Of course, now that I’m in love with cardamom, I’m sure that it will fall out of style like no one’s business. But I can still love an ingredient even if it’s not “trendy,” right?
Honey, Ginger and Cardamom Cookies
Adapted from Baking Illustrated, by the Editors of Cook’s Illustrated Magazine
Makes 2 dozen four-inch cookies
3 cups (15 oz) unbleached all purpose flour
3/4 cups (5 1/4 oz) light brown sugar
1 tbs ground ginger
1 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground cloves
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
12 tbs (6 oz) unsalted butter – softened but still cool, cut into 12 pieces
3/4 cups honey
2 tbs milk
Note – I know that you will want to skip the step where you freeze the dough before punching the cookies. Please don’t. They will be incredibly soft and fall apart in your hands, and you’ll curse this recipe. But if you freeze the dough they will punch like a dream. Just trust me on this one.
Preheat oven to 350°F
Process the flour, sugar, ginger, cardamom, cloves, baking soda and salt in a food processor until combined (about 10 seconds). Add the butter pieces and process until the mixture resembles sand (about 15 seconds). With the machine running, add the honey and milk through the feed tube until ingredients are evenly combined and the dough forms a soft mass (about 30 seconds).
Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and divide into two pieces. Roll each piece between two sheets of lightly floured parchment paper until 1/4 inch thick. Stack the pieces of dough (still sandwiched between the parchment paper) on a baking sheet and place in the freezer for 15-20 minutes until very firm.
Remove one sheet of dough from the freezer and place on a lightly floured work surface. Peel off the top layer of parchment paper. Flip the dough over and peel off the back layer of parchment paper. Use a 4 inch circular cutter (or water or wine glass) to cut 12 rounds from the dough. Place cookies 2 inches apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (I baked mine in batches of 9 per baking sheet). Re-roll scraps and re-punch cookies as needed. Repeat this process with the second half of the dough. While waiting to bake different batches of cookies, keep the cookies (on the baking sheet) in the freezer.
Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes, rotating 180 degrees at the halfway point. Let cool for 1-2 minutes on the baking sheet before removing to a rack to cool completely.