Serious cooks stress the importance of using fresh spices and I'm sure they're right but I made these cookies with spices that have been in my pantry since I unpacked them from our move three years ago (who knows how long they had been at the old place) and they taste great.
Better than great—eyes flare in surprise great. Nothing fancy or bedazzled about this holiday cookie–just a homely little nugget that's cakey and crisp with lightly spiced flavor and a big hunk of caramel cream cheese frosting.
I did employ some relatively fresh cardamom (love this spice—warm and faintly exotic) but the rest were old standbys—nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, ginger—you know you have them somewhere in your kitchen.
I used coconut oil which is great at keeping the cookies moist but doesn't give off a particularly coco-nutty flavor (probably outmatched by those spices). Use it at room temperature so it creams well with the sugar. The frosting is killer. I've used it on this cake and it's just as good here.
Cardamom Spice Cookies with Caramel Frosting
Makes about 2 dozen
1 cup coconut oil
1 cup light brown sugar*
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large egg yolk
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/2 cups AP flour
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
* Joy of Cooking recommends sending your sugar for a spin in the food processor before using in cookies. I did it with these and wasn't disappointed with the results.
Preheat oven to 350º
Whisk flour and all spices together in a bowl.
Cream coconut oil and sugar in a separate bowl until light and fluffy. I use my stand mixer but a hand-held works well too. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until incorporated. Add flour mixture in a few additions and beat just until mixed (or do it by hand). Chill dough for 45 minutes or overnight. Scoop into tablespoon sized chunks (or roll into one inch balls) and place on parchment lined baking sheets. Bake for 15 minutes until lightly golden. Cool completely on racks and frost.
Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting
1 cups white or light brown sugar
1/2 cup water
1 sticks unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 oz. cream cheese, cut into cubes
Put sugar and water into a heavy pot (heavy prevents scorching) over medium-high heat stirring until it starts to boil. Once it boils, do not stir anymore. Let bubble for about 7-10 minutes or until it turns golden brown and smells like caramel. Remove from heat and stir in butter until it melts. Then beat on low speed with your mixer until it emulsifies. Add vanilla, cream cheese and salt and beat until creamy. Scrape into a heatproof bowl and cool down (it will thicken as it cools).