dorie greenspan's coffee-cardamom cookies
Coffee in cookies can be tricky. In theory, they sound delicious. In practice, too little coffee makes them taste nothing like coffee and too much coffee makes them bitter. In this recipe from her book Dorie’s Cookies, the incredible Dorie Greenspan—as usual—gets it right. She smartly adds freshly ground coffee to a traditional spice cookie; the notes of molasses and cinnamon and cardamom round out the coffee flavor but don’t overwhelm it. Same goes for the glaze; it somehow highlights the coffee flavor instead of masking it. Dorie suggests that the glaze is optional—usually, I’m not on Team Glaze—but here, it’s just magical.
The dough is a dream to work with and even dreamier to look at. It’s dark and moody from the molasses and brown sugar, flecked with coffee and spices. Snow-capped with glaze, it’s as pretty as a picture.
Dorie greenspan’s Coffee-Cardamom Cookies
Barely adapted from Dorie’s Cookies by Dorie Greenspan.
Of course, Dorie’s recipe is perfect as is. The original recipe makes cookies that are 2-inches round and 1/4-inch thick. I like a bigger cookie (3-inches round, almost 1/2-inch thick), so I included that option below. For those, the baking time is essentially the same, but err on the longer time. I decorated my cookies with something similar to these crunchy pearls (I used a Whole Foods version) and brushed them with a little edible gold dust.
Makes approximately 30 cookies.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground espresso or coffee beans (or 2 teaspoons instant espresso) (see headnote)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into chunks, at room temperature
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 1/2 tablespoons unsulfured molasses
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 large egg white (see headnote)
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 to 2 teaspoons warm water, if needed
Whisk the flour, espresso, cinnamon, cardamom and salt together.
Working with a stand mixer or hand mixer, beat the butter and both sugars on medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and beat until well incorporated, about 2 minutes. Beat in the molasses and vanilla; don’t be concerned if the mixture curdles. Stop the mixer, scrape down the bowl and add the flour mixture all at once. Mix on low speed just until the dry ingredients are fully blended into the dough. You’ll have a thick, very moist dough.
Turn the dough out, gather it together and shape it into a disk. Roll the dough between pieces of parchment paper to a thickness of 1/4 (to 1/2 inch). Slide the parchment-sandwiched dough onto a baking sheet and freeze for at least 1 hour, or refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 350° F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Have a 2-inch (or 3-inch) cookie cutter at hand.
Peel away both pieces of parchment paper and put the dough back on one piece of paper. Cut out as many cookies as you can and place them on the lined baking sheets. Gather the scraps together, re-roll, chill and cut.
Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 11 to 13 minutes, rotating the sheet after 6 minutes, or until they are toasty brown on both the bottoms and tops. Poke them gently—they should be firm around the edges and softer in the center. Transfer the baking sheet to a rack and allow the cookies to cool for at least 20 minutes, or until they reach room temperature, before glazing (or serving) them. Repeat with the remaining dough, always using a cool baking sheet.
MAKE THE OPTIONAL GLAZE:
In a medium bowl, whisk the egg white until it’s foamy. Pour in the confectioners’ sugar and, continuing with the whisk or switching to a flexible spatula, stir, mash, and mix until the sugar is thoroughly moistened. It looks like an impossible job, but a little elbow grease will get it done. You’ll have a thick mass. Push the mixture down and stir in the melted butter. If the glaze looks too thick to brush, stir in a bit of water a little at time until you get a workable consistency; you’ll probably need less than 2 teaspoons of water, so go slow.
You can spread the glaze over the cookies with a small icing spatula or butter knife (to get the same look as the cookies in the photo), or you can use a brush. Dip a pastry brush into the glaze, picking up ¼ to ½ teaspoon of glaze, and brush it over one cookie, brushing in one direction. Without taking any more glaze, and working perpendicular to the original direction, brush the glaze until you have a nice crosshatch pattern. Repeat with the remaining cookies. You can serve the cookies 15 minutes after they’re glazed, but if you want to save them for later, place them on a lined baking sheet and allow them to air-dry for at least 1 hour before storing.
The rolled-out dough can be refrigerated for up to 2 days or, wrapped airtight, frozen for up to 2 months. Cut and bake directly from the freezer. Covered with a piece of plastic wrap pressed against its surface, the glaze will keep at room temperature for about 4 days. Packed in a covered container, the cookies will keep at room temperature for 5 to 7 days. They’ll get drier, but they’ll remain delicious. Unglazed cookies can be wrapped airtight and frozen for up to 2 months.