Showing posts with label cardamom. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cardamom. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Lemon Cardamom Crescents #ChristmasCookies @LeslieBudewitz

LESLIE BUDEWITZ: December, in my childhood, was the Month of the Christmas Cookie. My mother made easily a dozen varieties—spritz, Russian teacakes, date pinwheels, and on and on, keeping some for the family, and spreading the love with plates she carried into other people’s homes like sacred offerings.

Which I guess they were.

So, when I started choosing recipes for the 5th Food Lovers’ Village Mystery, As the Christmas Cookie Crumbles (coming in June 2018, from Midnight Ink), I had an embarrassment of riches. Not to my surprise, it turned out that most of my favorites include nuts or chocolate, so I scanned my memory and my mother’s recipes for some that didn’t. Alas, most of the non-nutters involved a level of manual dexterity that my mother had in spades, but that I lack, such as berlinkranzer, the tiny wreaths decorated with snips of candied fruit, and candy cane cookies. I’ve got her spritz press and who doesn’t love eating spritz? Who loves making them? Ah, yes, I see the hands going down. It’s not that it’s hard, exactly, just maybe a little more time-consuming than most of us want in a cookie.

So I turned to my collection of cookie cookbooks. (No, I’m not telling you how many I have.) This recipe comes from Better Homes & Gardens Cookies for Christmas (1985). Coriander has a lemony taste to it, so the lemon peel and juice are a natural complement. Use a microplane for zesting if you have one. (Thanks to my BFF Lita’s stop at the local kitchen shop on her annual visit this fall, I’ve got one now and love it!) The flavors are delicate enough to go well with a cup of tea, and sturdy enough for a cup of coffee or a snifter of something stronger.

Ultimately, I didn’t include this cookie in the book, not because it isn’t worthy but because Erin, my main character, chose another as a favorite. But these little crescents might become one of ours and, I hope, yours.

What's your favorite holiday cookie?

Lemon-Cardamom Crescents

3/4 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup powdered sugar
½ teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup powdered sugar

Heat oven to 325 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter until softened. Add 1/3 cup powdered sugar and beat until fluffy. Add lemon peel, lemon juice, and cardamom, and beat well. Gradually add the flour and mix well.

Shape dough into 1-1/2 by ½ inch logs. Curve into a crescent shape, being careful not to break the dough at the curve, and taper the ends. Place on a baking sheet and bake 18-20 minutes, or until golden on the bottom. Cool on a rack. When completely cool, place 1/3 cup powdered sugar in a plastic bag and shake a few cookies at a time to lightly coat.

Makes about 4 dozen. How many you keep is up to you.

From the cover of AS THE CHRISTMAS COOKIE CRUMBLES, Food Lovers' Village Mystery #5 (Midnight Ink, 2018, available for pre-order now):  

In Jewel Bay---Montana's Christmas Village---all is merry and bright. At Murphy’s Mercantile, AKA the Merc, manager Erin Murphy is ringing in the holiday season with food, drink, and a new friend: Merrily Thornton. A local girl gone wrong, Merrily’s turned her life around. But her parents have publicly shunned her, and they nurse a bitterness that chills Erin.

When Merrily goes missing and her boss discovers he’s been robbed, fingers point to Merrily—until she’s found dead, a string of lights around her neck. The clues and danger snowball from there. Can Erin nab the killer—and keep herself in one piece—in time for a special Christmas Eve?

Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries—and the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. A past president of Sisters in Crime, she lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat, an avid bird-watcher.

Swing by my website and join the mailing list for my seasonal newsletter. And join me on Facebook where I announce lots of giveaways from my cozy writer friends.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Swedish Cardamom Bread

by Sheila Connolly

Mel, Charles and Anna
My parents divorced when I was twelve, and a few years later my mother remarried.  Her new husband was of Swedish descent (on both sides), so I ended up with a pair of Swedish step-grandparents. They filled their roles admirably: their son was an only child, and they didn’t want to do anything to harm their relationship with him, so they accepted a new wife and two teen-age step-grandchildren with good grace. We spent many holidays and birthdays together, and they even attended my college graduation.

Grandmother Johnson was a baker by choice (a bank secretary by profession, retired by the time we knew her).  Each Christmas she would make an array of cookies—spritz, and thin ginger cookies topped by an almond—and breads like limpa, a traditional Swedish rye bread flavored with fennel, caraway and anise.  She also made a braided cardamom bread that my sister and I both remember fondly—and that’s my Christmas offering to you.

Cardamom is not widely used, and it may be an acquired taste, because its flavor is very distinctive. It smells wonderful in baking. This is a raised bread.  Sadly a lot of people don’t have the time to make yeast breads these days (all that rising, you know), particularly if they’re also trying to make cookies and dinner for the visiting relatives and decorate the house and shop for gifts and … I’m tired just writing about it.  But if you’re ever in the mood to experiment and find yourself with time on your hands (ha!), this is a nice bread to try.

Swedish Cardamom Bread

1-1/2 cups scalded milk (just short of boiling, with little bubbles around the edge)

1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 egg, beaten

1 tsp ground cardamom

1 pkg dry yeast

6 cups flour


Note:  This bread asks for three risings.  Since it’s sometimes hard to find a consistently warm place in your home in winter, I suggest turning the oven on to a low temperature and letting your bread rise on top.  Then preheat it to cooking temperature during the last rise.

Combine the milk, butter (which will melt in the warm milk), sugar and salt and let the mixture cool.

Dissolve the yeast in a scant quarter-cup lukewarm water.

Add the beaten egg, cardamom and the dissolved yeast to the milk mixture and blend.

Stir in the flour.  Knead for 10-15 minutes (if you have a stand mixer, you can use your dough hook).

Form into a ball. Generously grease a large bowl, and place the ball in it, turning it once to cover all side (you don’t want the surface to dry out), cover with a clean cloth, place in a warm place and let rise until doubled in size, 30-40 minutes.
Before and after rising
Punch it down (this is fun!).  Then let rise again until doubled.  Punch once more.

Divide the dough into three parts.  Roll each part into a long thin snake (about 18”) then braid them together.  Make a circle of the braid and pinch the ends together to make a wreath. Place on a greased baking sheet and cover with a clean towel and let rise yet again, about 45 minutes or until doubled.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

(Yes, you’ve now committed your entire day to sitting around waiting for your bread to rise.  Go write your holiday letter or wrap presents while you wait.)

Mix an egg with a little water and brush over the top of your bread, then sprinkle with coarse sugar.

Place in the preheated oven and bake for about 25-30 minutes, until golden brown. Cool on a rack.

Confession time:  this recipe as given makes a monster loaf that will serve a starving nation.  I’d suggest dividing this and making a pair of smaller, more manageable breads.
The big one
The little one

God Jul!

(Merry Christmas)