Once Christmas week arrives in our house we know what that means: festive spice cookies! Time to roll out the dough, get cutting, baking and decorating! This is the time to get the kids involved and make it a family affair! I’m sure the kids will outclass the mums and dads at decorating. When I used to run baking classes my best students were the children, always eager to learn more and so determined too! In fact most of these cookies are decorated by my children so can you guess which ones?
We make many different festive cookies in our house but always come back to this recipe. Light yet crunchy these are spiced with cardamom and cinnamon. The cardamom gives a delicate perfumed taste to the cookie and the cinnamon gives it the festive spice. Cardamom has a distinct perfume flavour with a hint of pine-like aromas. For this reason it is perfect to use in sweet as well as savouring cooking and it is also used in the making of soaps and perfumes. It has medicinal values and is also used as a digestant . True cardamom is the green variety called Elettaria cardamomum. Cardamom is best bought whole and ground at home as it preserves the volatile oils before it is ground. I love the perfume of the cardamom wafting upwards as I am using my pestle and mortar. Cardamom combines well with other spices and doesn’t lose its unique flavour.
Once the cookies are baked and cooled, let the fun begin! You can ice them with royal icing but if you prefer not to use pure sugar then a good quality white chocolate, once melted, will do the trick! I decided on a pink theme this year remembering my Christmases past. We always had a pink Christmas tree: pink baubles, pink tinsel and pink lights. Neighbours would come and admire the tree as it was unheard of in rural Ireland to have a pink tree. Imagine! My mother bought the pink lights and decorations in America and was so proud of that fact. Well she was always one to stand out in the crowd and anyone who knew her would totally agree. Every Christmas morning we would throw a Christmas drinks party and it wasn’t unheard of to have up to a hundred people in our sitting room pre Christmas lunch. I always thought my mum was superwoman to throw a party then turn around and cook Christmas dinner. Maybe a sherry or two helped!
It is inspiring to think that a few iced festive cookies can stir up memories of Christmases past and remembering those who are no longer with us but are living within us. That is what Christmas is all about: it is not what is under the tree that is important it is WHO is around the tree and the memories they can leave with us. Miss you mum!
So it is now time to make these festive cookies. They are simple and fun to get the kids moving and away from their screens! They can be made in a bowl by hand but are equally as successful in a food processor. I add my secret ingredient to keep them crunchy: cream of tartar. It works a treat so if you prefer crunchy over soft then this is a must.
- 225g soft butter or coconut butter
- 150g coconut or cane sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 380g spelt or plain flour
- 5g cream of tartar
- 10 green cardamom pods
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ cup flour, for kneading
- good quality white chocolate drops , melted or royal icing, to decorate
- Cream the butter and sugar with a wooden spoon, an electric whisk or food mixer until soft and creamy.
- Add the egg and maple syrup and whisk until combined.
- Sift the flour and cream of tartar into a separate bowl.
- Split open the cardamom pods and place the seeds in a pestle and mortar. Grind the seeds until they resemble a powder.
- Add the ground cardamom and cinnamon to the flour and mix well.
- Add the dry flour and spice mix to the creamed butter and sugar, a little at a time.
- Mix until well combined. Place the dough onto a floured board and knead until it comes together well, adding extra flour, if needed, to get the right consistency for rolling and cutting.
- Wrap in parchment paper and place in the fridge for an hour.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 160℃/320℉.
- Remove the wrapped dough from the fridge and leave at room temperature for 5 minutes. Roll out onto a floured work surface to ¼ inch thick. Cut out festive shapes using cutters and place on a lined baking tray.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 8 minutes or until lightly golden. Leave to completely cool if icing.
Time to have fun decorating so pour yourself a glass of hot spiced apple drink or mulled wine if you prefer and enjoy!
If you like these then you’ll love my recipe for gingerbread cookies!