Do you find that your best Christmas cookie attempts have something of a Charlie Brown quality? Try as I might, my cookies are invariably the underdog: either a little lopsided, a little too hard, or glazed with a coating whose intentions were grand, but whose appearance is a bit…homely. However, I persist in my efforts because making cookies is one of the finest rituals of the season. (And imperfect cookies are rather endearing.)
My favorite way to bake is with friends at a cookie party. As long as people are prepared for flour-covered clothing and messy work surfaces, it’s a fantastic way to bring people together and walk away with a scandalous quantity of cookies for yourself or an awesome collection of homemade gifts to share.
Another fun option is a cookie bar. It’s simple: prepare a basic sugar cookie, then jazz it up with cardamom (as was done here) or fresh herbs such as rosemary or thyme. Select any number of toppings — colored sugars, candy pearls, crushed chocolate, chopped nuts, even jams — then make a simple glaze, arrange everything on a counter, and let your guests have fun. ‘Tis the season!
Cardamom Sugar Cookies
Yield: About 4 dozen 2″ cookies
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons cardamom
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons water
Optional cookie toppings:
In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sea salt and cardamom.
Separately, whisk together the butter and sugar, either by hand or with an electric mixer. When the mix has been creamed, beat in the egg and vanilla.
Fold the dry ingredients into the wet until thoroughly combined. Knead, if necessary, to mix ingredients.
Separate into two balls and freeze for about one half hour, but be careful to not freeze the dough entirely.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Remove dough from freezer, and let stand a few minutes.
On a floured surface, roll the dough to a thickness of 1/8″.
Grease a large baking sheet and keep it on hand.
Dip your cookie cutter into the flour and cut the cookies. Arrange on baking sheet.
Bake for 12-15 minutes, checking after about ten minutes to make sure they’re not browning.
While the cookies are baking, prepare the glaze by whisking the water into the powdered sugar until fully incorporated. Set aside until ready to use.
Allow the cookies to cool before brushing the glaze on. Once the glaze is on, sprinkle with desired toppings and let the cookies sit for a few minutes. Enjoy!
Here are a few of my favorite recipes from past holidays: