Saturday, March 11, 2006

Spicing Things Up

Ever since I picked up a couple ounces of fresh ground cardamom at the local co-op earlier this week (they sell their spices in bulk), its fragrance has permeated the house, tempting me.

"All right! I give in!" I cried. "I'll bake with you!"

So not only did I lace this morning's zucchini bread with cardamom, I also decided to take a cookie recipe that I hadn't made in a while and tweak it so that that fresh cardamom flavor would sing out.

Long time ago, when I first picked up the book Uprisings (a whole-grain baking book), I tried the date-nut cookies from the People's Company Bakery in Minneapolis. I had noted a couple of changes that I thought should be made, and in looking at it again last night, I thought it would work well for what I wanted to do.

Removing the dates from the list of ingredients, I adjusted quantities of a couple of items and added plenty of cardamom. Once I finished mixing, I scooped small lumps of dough onto cookie sheets and let them bake.

I ended up with nutty, cardamom-laden cookies -- and a surprise.


What I had forgotten about this recipe is that although these cookies may look rather geological and substantial, the first bite tells you that these morsels are surprisingly light and airy, with only a hint of sweetness. A nice surprise, indeed!

What a delightful way to spice up the weekend!

Cardamom-Walnut Cookies

The original recipe of date-nut cookies, from Uprisings, called for more flour and eggs, plus more cinnamon and a lot of dates. Though very good in the original form, I thought something more subtle would be in order. Despite the large amount of cardamom for the recipe, its elusive quality means that in that first bite, you know you're tasting something good, but when you try to pinpoint it, it escapes. So, you might have to have another cookie. It's OK... they're good for you.

1/2 c butter, softened
1/4 c honey
1 egg
2 1/2 T milk or soy milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 c walnuts, chopped finely
1 3/4 c whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Cream together butter and honey. Mix in egg, milk, and vanilla until well blended. Beat in walnuts.

Whisk together flour, cardamom, cinnamon, and baking soda, then add gradually to wet ingredients, mixing until well blended.

Scoop walnut-sized lumps of dough onto ungreased cookie sheets. You can flatten them slightly or leave them in lumps; they won't spread much. Bake at 350 F for 12 to 15 minutes, until lightly browned and firm to the touch. Remove to wire racks to cool.

Makes about 2 dozen

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