While planning my annual holiday baking menu several years ago, I found myself pondering the exquisite versatility of cardamom: an ingredient I’d tasted as it splendidly sang in both savory and sweet treats alike. Before I knew it, I added a heap of the spice to a soft, shortbread-like dough, paired it with tart orange, and topped it off with a drizzle of dark chocolate. The result was magnificent, and now I can hardly imagine a winter without my treasured ritual of creating these cookies.
Orange cardamom cookies offer a distinctive spice, a tangy citrus punch, and a decadent tad of a topping. Moist, soft and crumbly with a chewy center, the variety of texture and flavor in each bite is a salute to the very versatility that inspired them. Now a traditional staple in my holiday baking repertoire, these cookies bestow not only their fragrant succulence but also their gem-like beauty when included in a decorative tin as a gift.
Orange Cardamom Cookies (makes about 4 dozen small cookies)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 cups flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon ground cardamom**
- 1 cup unsalted butter at soft room temperature
- finely grated zest of one orange
- 1/2 cup orange marmalade
- 1/2 cup dark chocolate, either chopped or in the form of chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 325 F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper; set aside. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, salt and cardamom. Add the butter, mixing dough until consistency is even and it sticks together (using your hands can be easiest). Fold in the orange zest until evenly distributed.
Using about a scant tablespoon of dough per cookie, make balls of dough and place them 1.25″ apart from one another on the lined cookie sheets. Push index finger into center of each ball, using other hand to brace cookie and prevent it from cracking. Freeze the cookies for a few minutes, then fill holes with marmalade until heaping (using a pastry bag or plastic bag with its corner cut off is easiest). Bake for 18-20 minutes or until bottoms are golden brown. Once cookies have cooled to room temperature, carefully melt the chocolate until just smooth, then drizzle it over the cookies using a fork. Let chocolate cool until hardened, then devour! Keep cookies cool in an airtight container for up to a week.
**Maybe next time… While I’ve always used the full tablespoon of cardamom with great results, the spice can have a pretty strong flavor, and different kinds can be more potent than others (based on freshness and variety); you might want to add your cardamom gradually, to taste, up to 1 tablespoon maximum. As for the marmalade, DIYers may endeavor to make orange marmalade for these cookies (and I hope to do so someday!). For cookie-filling ease, the key is that the orange peel be not in long strands but small pieces. I like Scandinavian Delights Danish Orange Spread, but I’ve also enjoyed other kinds, snipping the long pieces of rind with kitchen shears when needed. Aside from marmalade experiments, you might try replacing the chocolate with an icing made of powdered sugar and orange juice — it’s just as delicious but also a bit sweeter.