turmeric spice-seed almond cookies

turmeric spice seed almond cookies gf

My earliest memory of cookies are not fond ones. I blame it all on my kindergarten "Sports Day" (aka worst time of the school year) where we'd have to run across the field and pick up a cookie off a bench, eat it and then run back to the other bench and eat another one, the vicious cycle would continue a couple of times, I can't remember for how long but I think it was long enough! It was something I dreaded (I was a very lazy kid) and worst of all the cookies were not at all tasty. Now, come to think about it, I don't think it made that much sense, run and eat a cookie, No, No, No! Thankfully, I don't run across any fields for cookies but I will definitely run to the kitchen to whip some up.

almond cookie spices

My grandmother would get a dozen or more cookies that were lightly spiced and flavored with fennel and cardamom. They were fat, round and fragrant with the aromatic spices that were blended into the dough. This is my take on those cookies she had happily pick up from her baker.

I take great pride in my heritage and love infusing the flavors of Indian cuisine in everyday cooking. These cookies are extra special because they also bring back wonderful memories with my late grandmother from whom I have watched and learned to cook from. I made these cookies with Bob's Red Mill almond meal/flour and then added some turmeric for color and a whole buncha seeds for flavor and spice. These cookies are deliciously crisp and thin, flavored with fennel, flax and poppy seeds and colored with turmeric. But there's also a delicate hint of black pepper for that extra amazing little kick. 

I had a really hard time trying to come up with a name for these almond cookies. The turmeric kept hinting at "Golden cookies" but I kept debating with myself, I finally settled for something a little less glamorous but hopefully does it justice. Either way, I hope you love the cookies as much as I do! 

turmeric spice seed almond cookies in can

I used Bob's Red Mill Almond flour in these cookies and the cookies turned out perfect. The flour has fine grains making it easy to work with. The folks at Bob's Red Mill are sponsoring a giveaway for one lucky winner, all you need to do is go to the Rafflecopter widget and follow the instructions. 

You can win a bag of their delicious Almond meal flour and a $20 gift card to their store. So go ahead enter and best of luck!!!

This contest will run from April 4th through April 12, 2014.

Disclaimer:

 I did not receive any financial compensation from Bob's Red Mill for this post and all opinions are my own unless stated otherwise.

turmeric spiced seed almond gf cookies

turmeric spice-seed almond cookies

yields:

30-34 cookies

ingredients

1 1/2 cups (5 1/8 ounces) almond flour (Bob's Red Mill)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

1/4 teaspoon kosher sea salt

1 cup (7 5/8 ounces) sugar 

2 teaspoons fennel seeds

2 teaspoons flax seeds

2 teaspoon poppy seeds

1/4 teaspoon green cardamom seeds, freshly ground

1/4 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground

1 large egg

1. In a large mixing bowl, mix all the ingredients from the almond flour to the black pepper with a whisk until all the ingredients are evenly mixed.

2. Whisk the egg lightly in a small bowl. Fold the egg into the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon or spatula until completely combined. Bring the dough together into a ball, cover with cling film and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before baking.

3. Place a wire rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350F. 

4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and take a generous teaspoon of the dough, mould it into a small ball with the palms of your hand and place it on the baking sheet. Bake 9 cookie dough balls at a time and space them around 2 inches apart from each other, for approximately 10 minutes or until the edges begin to brown. The cookies will rise during baking and eventually flatten. Once baked, allow the cookies to rest for 5 minutes on the baking sheet and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

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dark chocolate chip hazelnut cookies

hazelnut dark chocolate chip cookies

I have a not-so-secret love for the delicious fragrance of hazelnuts. My obsession with hazelnuts starts early in the morning when I need to have a cup of freshly ground hazelnut scented coffee beans brewing away, otherwise my coffee just doesn't taste or smell as good. I once tried searching for hazelnut wood furniture in the hope that purchasing such furniture would make my house smell perfect, needless to say that didn't work out. So clearly, why wouldn't I make a hazelnut cookie to go with my hazelnut flavored coffee, it just made perfect sense (in my world).

dry ingredients

Everything about these cookies says dark, dark, dark! I used a very dark cocoa (if you want to go lighter in color then use the same amount of a regular unsweetened cocoa) with dark chocolate chips and a hint of browned butter all come together with the hazelnut flour to form a delicious crispy cookie. These cookies are also gluten-free so those of you with related allergies will enjoy them. I added a little hint of browned butter to bring out the nutty flavors of the hazelnuts, it gives them that extra little edge of flavor. 

cookie prep

Baking with nut flours is very different from using recipes that use grain flours as nuts are rich in fats, so you need to adjust the amounts of fats depending on the type of cookie you want. Since, I wanted a crispy cookie, I refrigerated the dough overnight. Here's another tip, when it comes to storing nut flours and keep it fresh, keep them in an airtight bag refrigerated or frozen, bring it to room temperature before use so it won't be clumpy. 

The wonderful folks at

Bob's Red Mill

were extremely kind to send me some of their hazelnut meal to use in this recipe and they are also sponsoring a giveaway. I'm a huge fan of their products and use a lot of their grain and nut flours in my baking, their quality is fantastic and this hazelnut flour is no exception to their product line. You can smell the delicious fragrance of hazelnuts as soon as you open the bag, needless to say,  I fell in love with it immediately! Now you can try it out too, 

Bob's Red Mill

is giving away a bag of their delicious Hazelnut Meal and a $20 gift card to their store. To enter the contest, all you need to do is follow the instructions on the widget at the end of this post. This contest will run from March 5th through March 12, 2014. Good luck! 

Disclaimer:

I did not receive any financial compensation from Bob's Red Mill for this post and all opinions are my own unless stated otherwise.

dark chocolate chip hazelnut cookies

dark chocolate chip hazelnut cookies

yields:

12 cookies

ingredients

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups (4 3/4 ounces) hazelnut meal(Bob's Red Mill), at room temperature

1 cup (7 5/8 ounces) brown sugar 

1/4 cup (3 ounces) unsweetened dark cocoa (I used the extra dark cocoa from Hershey's)

1/2 teaspoon dark roast instant coffee (optional)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon kosher sea salt

1 large egg, at room temperature

1 teaspoon madagascar vanilla bourbon extract

1/2 cup (3 ounces) semisweet dark chocolate chips

1. Place the unsalted butter in a small saucepan and heat on a medium-high flame for about 2-3 minutes or until the milk solids begin to turn reddish brown. Remove from stove and keep aside.

2. Whisk the hazelnut flour, sugar, cocoa, coffee, baking soda, baking powder and sea salt together in a large mixing bowl and keep aside.

3. In a small bowl, whisk the egg, vanilla extract and browned butter. Make a well in the center of the  dry ingredients in the large mixing bowl and stir the whisked liquid into the whisked dry ingredients with a silicone spatula. Bring the ingredients together to form a ball of dough, wrap with cling film and refrigerate overnight. 

4. Preheat the oven to 350F and place a wire rack in the center of the oven.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Divide the dough into 12 equal parts and roll each of them into balls. Flatten each ball with the palms of your hands into approximately 2 inch discs. Space 6 cookies on each sheet about 1-2 inches apart from each other. Place the baking sheets in the refrigerator for 10 minutes. Bake one sheet at a time in the oven for about 8-10 minutes until the edges of the cookies start to get crisp, the center will be slightly soft to touch. Rotate the cookie sheet halfway through baking. Do not over bake the cookies as the chocolate will burn. Repeat with second sheet of cookies. Allow the baked cookies to cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet and then transfer to a wire rack to cool. Serve the cookies warm. 

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checkerboard cookies

checkerboard cookies with cocoa

I received some good news earlier this week, I am nominated in the Best Food and Drink blog category in India. How crazy is that? It's an honor and a humbling experience to be sharing the spot with some amazingly talented bloggers. If you do have a moment to spare, please check out the link and I would really appreciate if you could give me your vote. This past year has been amazing and I have met so many wonderful people via this tiny space of mine, your overwhelmingly positive and encouraging comments have been very supportive and I thank you.

slicing cooking dough

We are off to Charleston this weekend for the wedding of my two dearest friends.  To make our long 8 hour drive fun, I baked one of my favorite childhood cookies, the checkerboard kind. There are so many wonderful things about checkerboard cookies, they look cute, they taste good (cocoa and vanilla), they smell great, take my word for it, they are simply delicious! I got the recipe from one of my mom's old cooking notes, though I am not sure where she got it from.

checkerboard cookie dough sliced
checkerboard cookie dough prebake

Did I forget to mention, how good the kitchen smells when you bake vanilla and cocoa? I need to bake these guys more often before people come over. 

checkerboard cookies in a can

A couple of notes when baking these cookies, the dough is slightly sticky so I prefer to roll out the cylinders on parchment paper, less mess and you don't need to add extra flour. You need the 4 cylinders of cookie dough to stick together so adding any more flour to these ratios might affect the way in which they stick together. The cookies are easier to cut if the dough is firm and they also come out crispier, so refrigerate them for a few minutes before cutting and baking. 

checkerboard cookies

checkerboard cookies

yields: approximately 30-35 cookies

ingredients

1 stick (1/2 cup / 4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened 
3/4 cup  sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups (7 1/8 ounces) all purpose four
1 large egg
2 tablespoons unsweetened dark cocoa powder (70% cacao)

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy on medium speed using the paddle attachment. 
2. Sift the flour three times and mix half of it into the butter and sugar mixture on medium low speed. Add the egg with the rest of the flour and mix on medium low speed until completely combined. 
3. Remove the dough from the bowl on place on a clean sheet of parchment paper. Divide it into two equal parts. Keep one part aside and take one part and place it in a mixing bowl with the cocoa. Fold with a silicone spatula until completely combined and there are no visible streaks of the yellow flour and the dough takes on the dark color of the cocoa. 
4. Divide each of the two equal parts of the dough (the one with cocoa and the one without) into two equal parts each. By now you should have 2 parts of plain dough and 2 parts of the cocoa dough.  On another sheet of parchment paper, using your hands, carefully roll out each part of the dough into 12 inch long cylinders. 
5. Arrange them alternately to form the checks. To do this place one cocoa cylinder next to the plain flour cylinder and press them lightly together. Repeat this by layering the top and reversing the order of the two dough cylinders (plain flour and then cocoa). This will create the characteristic checkerboard pattern. Wrap the final log of dough with parchment paper along its length. At this stage, I like to smoothen the edges and gently press the cylinders together using the outer parchment paper, it gives a cleaner finish. Refrigerate the dough for an hour to firm up. Once the dough is firm, cut into 0.5cm thin slices using a sharp knife. Place the cookie slices on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate the cookies for 10 minutes to firm up. Bake the cookies for 10-15 mins at 350F in a preheated oven in the middle rack. As soon as the cookies begin to get golden brown at the edges, remove them and allow them to cool for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container. 
Note: When baking these cookies, I prefer to bake one sheet of cookies at a time in my oven. I usually cut the dough and split the cookies between two sheets and then refrigerate the sheet that I am not going to bake immediately. 

cocoa cinnamon sea salt cookies "nankhatais"

nankhatais cocoa sea salt and cinnamon

I'm placing the pies on the side right now because it's really time to focus on baking cookies and cakes. I love Christmas for the food and desserts but also because it has always been one of my favorite holidays of the year. Every year around this time, my mom would get together with her mother and sisters to prepare loads of holiday sweets. This is something they took very seriously and still do so much so that I know my mother would take time off from her job to bake and prepare tons of holiday desserts. 

sea salt crystals

We also had another tradition, where we'd take sweets to our neighbors and friends. This is something, I was never a big fan of and I always preferred sharing the sweets that were at the lower end of my "dessert-love scale". My mom on the other hand would reevalute the contents of the gift basket and undo all my hardwork, so the good stuff went back in. I am really not sure who benefited from this exercise but it clearly wasn't me! 

Salt sprinkling

These days, I make holiday desserts that I really, really love and make enough to gift to friends and family while keep enough to last us for a few weeks. These cookies are fall into this special category of holiday desserts that I must make every year. They bring back nostalgic childhood memories of baking with my mother and her family, memories laced with sugar, flour and above all things, love. Indian "

Nankhatais"

as these cookies are commonly known, are crispy and eggless. You will love them, the cookies are crisp all-throughout with a deep dark cocoa flavor with a hint of black pepper and cinnamon that will warm you up. The center of each cookie is topped with a generous sprinkling of sea salt crystals that will shock your tastebuds with a delicious amalgam of sensory wonder.

If you like the combination sea salt and chocolate, you will love my

mixed multigrain muffins

. They are a great addition to your breakfast table at Christmas.

cookies all salted
plate of cocoa cinnamon sea salt  nankhatais

This recipe calls for the use of Indian ghee or clarified butter. Ghee is super easy to make and has a wonderful fragrance and taste. You simply melt unsalted butter in a thick bottomed stock pot until all the fat has melted and the milk solids have separated. The butter is melted and cooked on a low flame to prevent burning of the solids (this is different from browned butter where you want to use the browned milk solids for flavor) but not boiled. The melted fat is then passed through a sieve lined with several layers of muslin/cheese cloth to filter out the separated solids. The resultant fat that is collected is ghee and stored in the refrigerator. It solidifies as it cools. I've been finding ghee in most grocery stores these days but if you need to prepare it at home, start with 3-31/2 sticks of butter to get around 2 cups of ghee using the instructions I just described. 

cocoa sea salt nankhatais

cocoa cinnamon sea salt cookies "nankhatais"

yields:

approximately 2 dozen 2 inch cookies

ingredients

4 cups ( 1lb 3/8 oz) all-purpose flour

1/2 cup (2 ounces) dark cocoa, unsweetened

1 teaspoon instant dark roast coffee

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon fine salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground 

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, freshly ground

1 3/4 cups raw dark brown sugar

1 1/2 cup (12 ounces) ghee/clarified unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

2 to 3 tablespoons sea salt crystals

1. Whisk all the dry ingredients from the flour to the sugar in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer. 

2. Add the ghee to the dry ingredients and mix on medium-high speed until combined. The mixture should acquire a fine crumb-like texture. Cover the bowl with cling film and refrigerate for at least two hours. 

There is no need to bring the dough together to form one large ball, just store the dough in the crumb-like phase.

3. Before baking the cookies, remove the bowl from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

4. Preheat the oven to 350F and place the baking rack in the middle section of the oven. Take some of the mix in your hands and press and mold together to form small one inch balls. The warmth from your hands will soften the ghee and help to bring the cookies together. Flatten the ball into discs that are about 2 inches in diameter. The cookie discs might crack a little on the edges so press and mold them gently. If they do crack a little, just push the cracked ends closer to seal the gap. (Personally, I don't mind a few minor cracked edges). Sprinkle a pinch of the sea-salt crystals over each cookie.

5. Place the cookie balls on cookie/baking sheet pre lined with parchment paper and bake for 15-20 minutes until the edges start to get crisp and appear a little darker than the color of the cocoa. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely and store in air-tight container for up to two weeks. 

chocolate raspberry whole-wheat biscotti

Biscotti in a bowl

Instead of saying that I do this occasionally, I'll be honest and say that I do this often, more so than necessary. Whenever, I walk into the grocery store, I'll invariably stumble upon some ingredient that will pique my curiosity and of course, I'll end up picking it without really giving much thought to what I would/could do with it. This is exactly what happened when I saw a bag of these freeze-dried raspberries at the store last week, I just had to have them! 

freeze dried raspberries and biscotti

Eaten straight up, they can be quite tart! However, I still had a bag of dried berries to deal with. For a while, I've been wanting to try baking berry flavored biscotti. The problem was the liquid content, biscotti needs to be dry and crisp, and fresh berries would be too moist and they would reduce the shelf-life of the cookie. But these freeze-dried raspberries could avoid all of these complications! 

There I was sifting flour and mixing a batch of biscotti batter. The batter got colorful while I folded in the crunchy raspberries with bits of dark chocolate and walnuts. Baking biscotti is fun, you get to do it twice! You can cut the loaves to any thickness you desire, I normally waiver between 3/8 to an inch, just make sure you use a sharp serrated knife to get a clean cut. This to me, is fateful perfection; chocolate, raspberries and walnuts wrapped in whole-wheat flour all of which would end up getting dunked in hot tea or coffee at some point over the next few days. 

baking biscotti chocolate discs

chocolate, raspberry and walnut whole-wheat biscotti

yields: about 40-46 cookies

ingredients

2 1/4 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup packed brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup freeze-dried raspberries
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (58.5% cacao)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a mixing bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, and salt and keep aside.
3. Using an electric mixer, whisk the sugar, eggs and vanilla on medium speed until light yellow. Add the sifted dry ingredients into the batter and combine until a sticky dough is formed. Fold the raspberries, chocolate and walnuts carefully into the dough. Take care to prevent the dried raspberries from crumbling by folding gently. 
4. Transfer the dough onto a clean floured surface and divide into two equal parts. Form each half into a rough log about 10 X 2 inches in length. (The dough is sticky and it is helpful if you flour your hands while working with it). Transfer each log onto the prepared cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes until they turn golden brown. Rotate the cookie sheet halfway through baking to ensure even cooking. 
5. Remove the logs and let them cool for 12 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 300F. Using a serrated knife, slice each log diagonally into 3/8 inch thick sections. (The thickness of the sections are entirely up to you, if you like them thicker you can even go up to an inch). Transfer the cut slices back onto the parchment paper and bake until golden and crisp on both sides for about 10 minutes on each side. Rotate the cookie sheet halfway through baking. Once cooked, transfer the biscotti from the cookie sheet onto a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an air tight container. 

chocolate butter cookies

Chocolate Butter Cookies

This is that special time of the year when I carb load for a few days, no not for a race or marathon or any other sort of event that requires athletic prowess it's a simple way for me to celebrate my birthday. Each year, I make myself a different sweet treat/s, something that I've wanted to try/make all year round but avoided as a preventative measure to protect my waistline (The relationship between aging and waistline length is a direct proportion, at least for me). Ageing is an unwanted artifact of birthdays, as you cross a certain threshold (at least in my case), you have to learn some self-control. Taste and eat a little and occasionally indulge your tastebuds. Come birthday week and I will indulge every wicked dessert fantasy that has crossed my mind and make up for all those times I have been good. 

cooling cookies and forget me nots_1

One would assume that I might want a cake on my birthday, while I won't say no, this year I have a different opinion. Heck, I've made myself birthday cakes in the past but once in a while, I will crave for something other than a cake such as a pudding or a caramel flan. It all really depends on what my obsession was centered around. Images of freshly baked butter cookies have been circulating around my brain cells for a long time, just like those delicious Danish ones with that perfect nutty butter fragrance that melts in your mouth.

Strawberry flower and a lonely cookie

This recipe is based on the version I found in The Cook's Illustrated Cookbook. Browning a little bit of the butter, followed by a brief cooling period gives these cookies that extra heightened buttery nutty flavor that I absolutely love! To work with the dough, the refrigerator is your buddy. The dough is easy to work with when chilled and rolling it out between sheets of wax paper makes it even easier.

You can use any type of cookie cutter to shape your cookies, I used one of my Linzer cookie cutters. As my friend John says, they look like chocolate sprockets. Of course, depending on the size of the cookie you end up cutting, you will end up with either more or less cookies than I did. My cookie cutter measures around 2 inches and I got around 50-58 cookies. 

eating a cookie


chocolate butter cookies 
(adapted from The Cook's Illustrated Cookbook)

yields: approximately 52-58, 2 inch cookies

ingredients

2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon Madagascar bourbon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1. Melt 4 tablespoon of the butter in a medium saucepan over high heat. Stir continuously until the milk solids turn orange brown. Remove the browned butter from the flame and stir in the cocoa to form a smooth silky paste. Keep aside to cool for 20 minutes.
2. Attach the paddle to a stand mixer, add the remaining butter, sugar, salt, and the cocoa-butter mixture. Mix completely on high speed, the mixture should appear light and fluffy. Add the yolks and vanilla and mix for about 40 seconds. Scrape the bowl down with a silicone spatula. 
3. Adjust the speed of the mixer to the low setting and add half of the flour mixture. Blend until completely incorporated. Scrape the bowl down with the spatula. Add the rest of the flour to the batter and repeat. Once the dough is formed into a ball, divide it into three flat discs. Transfer and wrap, each disc on to a large sheet of wax paper and refrigerate for 1 hour. Cut two large sheets of wax paper and sandwich a disc of the refrigerated dough between the sheets at the center. Roll out the disc into a rectangle, about 1/4 inch thick. Refrigerate the flattened dough for another 15-20 minutes. 
4. Preheat the oven to 375F and place the wire rack in the center. Remove the dough from the refrigerator, peel the top sheet of wax paper and cut out desired cookie shapes. Place the cut cookies onto a baking sheet or tray lined with parchment paper. Bake the cookies on the centered wire rack in the oven for 10 minutes (if the edges start to get dark, remove them immediately as the cookies are burning), rotating the baking sheet halfway during baking. Bake only one batch of cookies at a time. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool to room temperature. Store in an airtight container for up to a week. Any extra bits of dough can be pressed together and re-rolled and cut to make more cookies. Repeat with the rest of the refrigerated discs to make the rest of the cookies or refrigerate the dough for up to 3 days.

the great food blogger cookie swap 2012: rose and cardamom cookies

Holiday Rose and Cardamom Cookies

When I decided to participate in the The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap of 2012, I had no idea that this would be a huge and useful learning experience on cookie issues that I normally do not think much about. I mean the part about what cookies are great for shipping, their longevity, and how to package and ship them. But first let me tell you a little about this amazing swap, fellow food bloggers, Lindsay and Julie are the brains behind this wonderful cookie exchange party that takes place on the internet. The swap is open to food bloggers and this year there were several hundreds of us that participated. The idea is simple with a few rules to follow, you basically sign up and at some point in the weeks to follow, you are sent the names and address of three random food bloggers to each of whom you must ship out a dozen of your cookies. The cookie recipe must also be new to your blog and you have to publish the recipe on a particular date. You will also receive a dozen cookies each, from three other random food bloggers. Believe me, it was fun to send the cookies out to three random people that I did not know but it was equally exciting to receive three surprising cookie bundles in the mail. And the best part of it all, you get to meet some new wonderful food bloggers.

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2012 Cookie boxes

This year the Cookie Swap was very special and the hosts had partnered with the Cookies For Kid's Cancer organization. This was a great idea for a totally fantastic cause to raise money and awareness for children's cancer. Then a few weeks ago, I was surprised to receive a cute orange colored silicone spatula in the mail, as a token for participating in the cookie swap from OXO (one of the sponsors). What a fun and creative idea for everyone involved in this awesome cookie project on every different level!

Cookie packing

The first part of this cookie swap was to select or develop a cookie that would stay fresh and of course travel well. I ruled out the delicate cookies that might crack or crumble during transportation such as tuiles.  Chocolate based cookies are quite popular during the holidays but still I kind of wanted to have something "holidayesque" and maybe with a little Indian flavor to it. Rose water is often used to lend a floral fragrance and flavor in several Indian and Middle Eastern desserts but trapping the rose notes in a cookie would be too hard. Thankfully, I recalled a wonderful sweet red syrup made from roses that we used to flavor cold sherbets and drinks with. Rose syrup has a more intense rose flavor and sweet floral fragrance and I felt that it would be a better ingredient to use than rose water in these cookies. If you can't find rose syrup at a store you can find several good brands on Amazon (Rooh Afzah, Darbur, and Kalvert brands are the brands I am familiar with and are all very good). To enhance the rose flavor, I used freshly ground green cardamom seeds after cracking the little green pods open. The cardamom and rose flavors pair very well in these cookies. 

Rose and Cardamom Cookies and Cookie Dough

Now that I had the flavors all worked out, I needed to find a cookie batter recipe that would result in a cookie with a relatively crisp yet slightly chewy texture, mainly because it would travel well and last fresher, just in case the post got delayed. I reworked an old cookie recipe that I used for my gingersnaps. After two batches of trial and experimentation in cookie manufacturing in the kitchen and a little frustration, I finally got the recipe ratios worked out and got the cookies to where I wanted them to be. I cut back a little on the syrup, added some extra refrigeration steps for the cookie dough to get the right texture that I envisioned my holiday rose and cardamom cookie to be, and reduced the baking temperature. 

Rose and Cardamom Cookies

Now came the final part, the packaging! Thankfully both Lindsay and Julie, had sent out several detailed instructions that were useful and informative on how to package cookies. I tried to personalize my packaging by using customized boxes for my recipients. I'd love to know what you think of them. The cookies were packed in little plastic bags before I put them into the boxes. I also tossed in a couple of edible dried rose petals into each box and then for an extra layer of safety put each box into an airtight Ziploc bag. Finally each cookie parcel was put into Priority mail boxes with some packaging peanuts and noodles. Since, I had some several cookies, I decided to share them with some of my friends, so I sent out two more shipments as surprises to two unexpected people. I love surprising people during the holidays, it is always so much fun! I hope that the three food bloggers who received my cookies, got them safe and sound.These are the three wonderful people that I sent my cookies to: Love U MadlySemi Homemade Mom, and What the Cupcake? The three amazing bloggers that sent me some delicious cookies were: Snappy GourmetStracciatella, and Kokocooks.

A boxful of cookies

rose and cardamom cookies

yields:  approximately 60 cookies

ingredients

2 1/4 cup all-purpose unbleached flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground green cardamom seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cubed and softened at room temperature
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup rose syrup 
1/2 cup granulated white sugar (for tossing the cookie dough balls)

1. In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, baking soda, cardamom, and salt. Whisk the dry ingredients for 15 seconds and keep aside.
2. In the mixing bowl of a stand mixer, add the butter and the brown sugar. Cream the butter and sugar for about 4 to 5 minutes with the paddle attachment of the mixer. Beat the egg into the creamed mixture for about 2 minutes until completely blended. At this point add the rose syrup and cream the batter for another 2 minutes until the rose syrup is completely blended. The batter will appear pink in color.
3. Add half of the whisked dry ingredients to the creamed batter and mix with the paddle attachment of the stand mixer for about 5 minutes or until all the flecks of the flour have disappeared. Then add the rest of the dry ingredients to the batter and mix completely until all the flour has disappeared.
4. The cookie dough will be soft and sticky. Transfer the cookie dough to a clean glass bowl, cover the lid with cling film, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. 
5. The dough will become a slightly hard after refrigeration. Using a teaspoon scoop out a little dough to make balls that are about 0.5 inches in diameter using your palms. Place the balls about an inch apart from each other on baking trays that are lined with clean sheets of parchment paper. Refrigerate the dough balls for another 45 minutes to an hour (as they will have softened a little). If you run out of baking trays (like I did), prepare the cookie dough balls in batches and keep the rest of the dough refrigerated until needed. 
6. Heat the oven to 325F. Remove the chilled cookie dough balls that you prepared in the previous step. Toss each ball in the granulated sugar until completely coated. Place the balls back on the baking trays lined with parchment paper about an inch apart from each other (they will spread during baking). Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes in the center rack of the preheated oven. The cookies will be done when they start to appear slightly golden brown but will remain pinkish in color. Allow the cookies to cool in the baking trays and then transfer them to a wire rack to cool for another 10-15 minutes. The cookies should be crisp and slightly chewy in the center. Transfer the cookies and store in an airtight container for up to 2 to 3 weeks.

lemon and poppy seed rice cookies


The rain and wind are pounding on the windows and it's a bit crazy outside. Though, hurricane Sandy might have extended the weekend by two days, sitting at home and preparing for the worst possible scenario is a bit stressful. Walking the dog out in the rain was no fun either, he wasn't ready to budge and I honestly just wanted to be indoors. Over time, I've realized that you just need to make the best of any situation that life throws your way. For the most part, I have enjoyed the extra free time at home and made the most of it. So here I am sharing my "hurricane-coping cookies", this is what got me through the crazy moments of the hurricane. I hope the rest of you in the East coast are staying safe, warm, and dry!


You've probably eaten lemon and poppy seed cookies before but these rice flour based cookies are very different. The cookies are much more delicate and crumble easily making them a perfect accompaniment to tea or coffee. I used stone ground rice flour which has a slight grainy texture but you are welcome to use a finer grade of rice flour if you prefer. I can't stress enough on the importance of using fresh lemons here, they make a big difference to the flavor of the cookies. For that matter, everything around you in the kitchen will also smell wonderfully citrusy when you work with the lemons. These cookies are also great for those on a gluten-free diet due to health reasons. As always, chill the dough for at least 2 hours (overnight is even better) for a crisp cookie. The cookies should be white when completely baked. The crushed pistachios are optional and I love the contrast of the green salted nuts with the white rice cookies. Salted pistachios are also easier to find than the plain variety and they also give a wonderful flavor. 



lemon and poppy seed rice cookies

yield: about 45 cookies 

ingredients

4 cups rice flour
4 large egg yolks at room temperature
1 cup melted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
4 tablespoons poppy seeds
3 tablespoons crushed salted pistachios (optional)

1. Dissolve the sugar and water on a medium flame. Bring it to a boil and let it cool to room temperature. Once it has cooled, add the lemon zest and lemon juice.  Keep aside.
2. Whisk the eggs yolks for 8 minutes with the paddle attachment of an electric stand mixer. The yolks will become light and fluffy.
3. With a whisk, mix the flour and salt together in a separate bowl.
4. Pour the cooled lemon-sugar syrup from step 1 into the yolks and continue whisking.
5. Now add the melted butter to the yolks and continue whisking till completely blended.
6. Mix in one cup of the flour at a time into the egg yolks until no trace of the flour can be seen. The batter will be soft. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before baking the cookies.
7. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line several clean baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop out 1 teaspoon of the chilled dough. Keep the cookies about an inch apart from each other to prevent them from sticking. Flatten the surface of each of cookie dough with an offset spatula. Sprinkle a few poppy seeds and pistachios on the surface. Bake for 10 minutes till the cookies are dry on the surface but still white. Remove from the cookies carefully from the baking sheet and allow to cool to room temperature. Be careful while handling the cookies once they are out of the oven as they can crumble quickly. Store the cooled cookies in an air tight container, with each layer of cookies sandwiched with wax paper, to prevent any sticking.

Note: Dipping the offset spatula in water before touching the surface of each cookie before baking will prevent the dough from sticking to the spatula.

gingersnaps


Sometimes, I like to walk around the Smithsonian Art Museum to relax and basically do nothing. Sometimes it is nice to do nothing. Though admiring and viewing the art at the museum surpassed my ability to do nothing. In the end my ability to do nothing got defeated by my wandering eye, even in a place as quiet as the museum. Okay, I need to stop short of going on a crazy ramble here and get to it!


We are off to the farm at the Mouth of Wilson in Virginia for this wonderfully long Christmas weekend. This will be a good trip since it will be my first time up in the mountains during winter. I secretly hope that there will be a little bit of snow up there but the weather gods seem to be planning otherwise. For this trip, I've baked a batch of gingersnaps. I love ginger and I love ginger snaps too much, in fact I think at this point my blog has several ginger based dessert recipes



I like ginger snaps dipped in either hot tea or coffee. They make me terribly happy. Biting into a gingersnap is always exciting, well at least for me, it starts with a bite and ends in a surprise burst of crystallized ginger in the cookie. No wonder this cookies is a favorite during the holidays in our home. At times I have been known to extend my gingersnap obsession to others by sending them a stack of gingersnaps to friends and family alike.


I hope every one of you out there has a great start to the holidays, beyond the crazy rush to the store for those last minute errands and gifts. I know, I have been there myself and will probably be there again a few days after Christmas.


gingersnaps

ingredients

2 1/4 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
11/2 sticks of unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup dark molasses
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 large egg
1/2 cup crystallized ginger
1/2 cup white sugar (for rolling the cookie dough balls)

1. In a large bowl sift the flour, the ground spices, the baking soda and salt.  
2. In another bowl, cream the butter and sugar together. Add the egg, vanilla and the molasses to the creamed mixture. 
3. Add half of the dry ingredients first to the wet mixture. Once mixed in add the remainder of the dry ingredients. 
4. Fold in the crystallized ginger to the dough. Transfer the cookie dough to a sheet of parchment paper. Bring the dough together to form a large ball with the help of the parchment paper (the dough is sticky and using the parchment paper to get the dough together in a ball becomes easy). Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, prior to baking. 
5. Preheat your oven to 375F. Make 1 inch balls with the palms of your hand and then toss them in the white sugar to gently coat each side of the ball. Bake the gingersnaps at least 2 inches apart on a baking sheet for about 10 minutes or till golden brown. Let them cool on the sheet and then transfer to a wire rack for further cooling. Store in an airtight container.



Happy Holidays Everyone!