I'm talking about Mom's Potato Casserole or Grandma's Chocolate Cake or Spamwiches. (Don't ask.) One bite and you're immediately transported back to the dining room table in your childhood home. Everyone's gathered around, candles are flickering, and the gang is singing happy birthday. (Off key? Perhaps.)
A flavor that envelops me in a flood of food memories is cardamom. When I was a gap-toothed little girl, my grandma would visit with her sister and brother-in-law. Gram, Great Aunt Phyllis, and Great Uncle George would pile out of the velour-seated Town Car bearing gifts from her hometown of Rockford, Illinois: sweet rolls and coffee cake from her local bakery scented with cardamom. Gram didn't cook, but she bought with the best of them. It was my first taste of the warm spice, and I was hooked.
Fast forward 15 years to the first Christmas I spent with the husband's family. A homemade loaf of braided bread graced the breakfast table. As I devoured my first slice, spread generously with butter and dusted with sugar, I was transported back to Gram's visits. It was Cardamom Bread! Suddenly the first Christmas away from my family felt so much more like home.
When I thought about what to bake for this year's Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, I couldn't wait to share the taste of my home with all of you. It seemed only appropriate to make Cardamom Cookies. Tender and buttery with the subtle warmth of cardamom, these little gems are rolled in a snowfall of sugar until they sparkle.
If you're looking to round out your cookie tray, consider trying one of these delicious treats that I was lucky enough to receive as part of the Food Blogger Cookie Swap: Peanut Butter Cookies from Mackenzie at Susie Freaking Homemaker, Snickerdoodles from Christine at If you give a gal a mixing bowl..., and Cranberry Bliss Cookies from Kimberly at Rhubarb and Honey. Thanks for sending holiday cheer my way, ladies!
Gently adapted from The American Club
Makes about 24 cookies
1 cup butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup superfine sugar (Or pulse granulated sugar in your blender a few times to make it fine.)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together butter and sugar at medium-high speed until smooth, fluffy, and increased in size, about 2-3 minutes. On low speed, beat in egg yolk, vanilla, flour, baking soda, cardamom, and salt until combined. (Dough will be crumbly.)
Shape dough into 1" balls. (Since the dough is crumbly, you may need to press it together in the palms of your hands in order to form the balls.) Place dough about 1" apart on an ungreased baking sheet. (Seriously, ungreased. No parchment paper or anything. I tried baking the cookies on parchment paper, and they spread way too much.) Bake in preheated oven for about 15 minutes until cookies are just golden. (This recipe works best if you bake one tray of cookies at a time. If you bake two trays in the upper and lower thirds of your oven, watch the bottoms very carefully to make sure they don't burn.)
Remove cookies to a wire rack to cool. Once completely cool, roll cookies in superfine sugar.