I think cardamom is a very underused spice. It’s a nice surprise in baking and I like to seek out recipes that use cardamom. I can’t take off the cap on a cardamom container without taking a big whiff first. It’s a scent that is hard to describe but is unmistakable once you become familiar with it and a bit exotic. I found this recipe in a holiday special magazine and the recipe is from Kate Wheeler of blog Savour-Fare; www.savour-fare.com. The cookies are really fun to decorate and evoke dreams of a white Christmas; which is fun for those of us who know there is not a chance in you know what of having snow. Not that I’m complaining mind you…
“White Christmas” Cardamom-Black Pepper Trees
(recipe adapted from Kate Wheeler of Savour-fare)
Yield: about 3 dozen cookies
3/4 Cup unsalted butter, softened
1 Cup sugar
2 Cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. cardamom
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Using a stand mixer on high-speed, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and mix thoroughly. Mix the dry ingredients together: flour, baking powder, salt, cardamom, and pepper. On low-speed add the dry ingredients to butter/sugar mixture and beat until everything is incorporated. Divide the dough in two and form into two flat discs, wrap in plastic and chill overnight.
3. Roll the dough disks out to about 1/4 inch thick. Using a tree shaped cookie cutter, cut out the cookies and arrange them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake until the cookies are lightly golden, about 10 minutes, and let cool thoroughly before brushing cookies with icing.
Icing Recipe for “brushing” cookies:
3 oz. half-and half
8 oz. (1/2 lb) confectioners sugar
Decorations, such as silver dragees and edible glitter
1. Whisk the half and half with the sugar until mixture is smooth; you can do this in the stand mixer or by hand.
2. To decorate; brush the icing over cooled cookies; cover the entire cookie, even the sides. Let the icing harden with cookies placed on a wire rack with parchment paper underneath to catch drips.
3. To decorate, drizzle royal icing (see recipe below*) using a fork and quickly drizzle the icing across the trees to simulate snow-covered trees. Sprinkle the cookies with white or silver dragees. Once icing has hardened; sprinkle cookies with edible glitter.
Royal Icing for “snow” drizzle:
2 Tbsp. meringue powder
1/4 cup warm water
8 oz. confectioners sugar, sifted
1 tsp. light corn syrup
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer; using a whisk attachment combine the meringue powder and water until foamy. Add the sugar and whisk on low until combined. Add in the corn syrup and increase to med-high and whisk for about 5 minutes until stiff peaks form.
2. Using a tsp. of cold water at a time, stir in the water until the icing is thin enough for drizzling but not too thin. You want the icing to cling to the fork and thick enough to leave a thick enough drizzle to resemble snow on the cookies. Test a little at a time until you reach your desired thickness.