Sunday, July 17, 2005

You can't go wrong with Maida Heatter

You can't go wrong with Maida Heatter. I'm sure that there are recipes of hers that are not universally popular (Check out the judging panel's comments in Cathy's Mondays with Maida to see if they ever find a bad one), but I have yet to try a recipe that does not work. And, of course, I love just about all of them.
Case in point, these cardamom cookies struck me as calling for an unusual mixing process. The spice, baking soda and salt were creamed into the butter before the sugar was added. Perhaps this is for more even distribution of the spice in the cookies? In any event, I went ahead with the recipe as written with only two small changes. First, I slightly increased the cardamom and did not use fresh ground. Too lazy for that. It is well over 100F here today and I am not grinding spices. Please overlook the illogic in refusing to grind spices but unhesitatingly running my oven to bake. Second, I added some vanilla because I think that cardamom and vanilla are an amazing combination.
If you do not know who Craig Claiborne is, take a peek at his biography. Among other things, he definately knew a good cookie. You can read the original recipe text here, where it is reprinted from Maida Heatter's Brand-New Book of Great Cookies.
I have no guilt at reprinting the recipe here because I love these. I also simplified them into drop cookies because, to blame the heat again, I didn't feel like rolling them out.
The cookies are slightly chewy, slightly crunchy and slightly shortbready. They're also very good.

Craig Claiborne's Cardamom Cookies
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup light brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F.
Sift together flour and cream of tartar into a medium bowl.
In a large bowl, cream butter, cardamom, baking soda and salt. Add sugar and beat until well combined. Beat in egg and vanilla. Gradually stir in flour mixture.
Shape dough into 1 inch balls and flatten them slightly with the palm of your hand onto a parchment lined baking sheet. They will spread a bit, but not too much, as they bake.
Bake for 10 minutes, until cookies are a light, golden brown. Let them rest on the baking sheet for several minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
Makes 45 cookies.