Tuesday, June 14, 2011

chai-spiced almond cookies

I have a bit of a thing for cardamom. I'm a freak for chai tea and chai lattes, particularly those from the grillcheeserie, otherwise known as Le Lapin Pressé. Seriously - they are the best. They use actual teabags and not syrup a la Starbucks.  Go there and try one, then have a grilled cheese. And a cappuccino. And a little bunny rabbit cookie.

The first time I ever bought cardamom it was to make these cookies. Ever since then, I've put cardamom in everything - cheesecakes, frozen yogurt, fruit, coffee... you name it, I've eaten it with cardamom. Even more exciting are the little green cardamom pods you can get at Indian markets - often I boil them along with my water when making tea. In these cookies, however, I've used the standard ground cardamom that you can find at the grocery store. If you're near an Indian market, buy it there and save a few bucks. You can spend them on chai lattes!

I've made a few alterations to the original recipe here, namely that I muted the spice just a little bit. I find that these cookies are much tastier when the spice is more subtle. I also discovered this time around that the sliced almonds work much better than chopped. You can scrunch them right into the dough with your hands, and they are much more compatible texture-wise. These cookies are buttery and nutty, yet still deceptively light. This property helps you to remain fully planted in denial on those rare occasions that you eat, say... ten of them in one sitting. Not that I've ever done that.

Make a double batch. You'll be glad you did.

chai spiced almond cookies
Adapted from Epicurious 
Makes 18 to 20 little cookies

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/3 cups icing sugar, divided
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/3 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup sliced almonds

Preheat your oven to 350ºF and line a baking pan with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, cream butter with 1/3 cup of icing sugar, vanilla, almond extract, allspice, cardamom, cinnamon and salt. Add flour and mix with your hands until incorporated. Scrunch in almonds, breaking them up in the dough.

Roll the dough into little balls approximately one inch in diameter and place on the parchment paper spaced on inch apart.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. When they are lightly browned on the bottom, take them out and let them cool for five minutes.

Put 1 cup of icing sugar in a small bowl. Roll each cookie, one at a time, in the icing sugar. If you care about presentation, repeat the process after the first layer has dried a bit. I just leave it at one layer because the icing sugar is pretty thick as it is, it's just not as white and pretty as it could be.

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