The Wonder of Cardamom
December 26, 2012
This Christmas involved a lot of baking on my part, and the festivities just wouldn't have been complete without a batch of cookies or two. This year though, I deviated from the tried and true sugar cookies and went for something a little more culturally interesting. I made peppernuts. What are peppernuts? Well, they involve neither pepper nor nuts, so don't let the name scare you away. They're tiny round cookies that are meant to be eaten by the handful. And they involve something that's difficult to find around here -- cardamom.
Cardamom is a spice that is traditionally used in Indian cooking, but it's also a staple in Scandinavian baking. Cookies and pancakes are just not complete without cardamom in Northern Europe. It's as common as cinnamon is here. The taste is a little difficult to describe. It's strong but not overpowering in small doses. A typical recipe calls for only a small amount of it. I wouldn't advise sprinkling it on your toast or oatmeal, but in combination with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and a dash of ground cloves, it's downright delicious!
Feeling daring? Try this recipe sometime. It's super easy and the result is divine! You'll definitely be the talk of the party!
- 1 cup butter, room temperature
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp. hartshorn / baker's ammonia (or 1 tsp. baking powder plus 1/2 tsp. baking soda)
- 1 tsp. freshly ground cardamom
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. ginger
- 1/2 tsp. cloves
Preheat oven to 375º. Cream together the butter and brown sugar, and stir in egg until well-blended. Sift together remaining ingredients, and then mix into batter to form a stiff dough.
Pinch off handfuls of the dough and roll into 1/2"-thick snakes on a floured counter. Using kitchen shears or a sharp knife, cut each snake into 1/2"-long pieces (about the size of a hazelnut). Place pieces on an ungreased cookie sheet, separating them slightly, and bake for 8 minutes.
Yield: Lots (around 600 Danish Peppernuts).
North Independence Branch