What says Christmas more than sugar cookies? Well, at least you would say sugar cookies if your mouth weren’t full of them. Add the underused spice cardamom and a lime reduction and you have Key Lime Cardamom sugar cookies. Although not a fan of cookies in general I felt duty bound to post a recipe for them and guess what? I liked these a lot, or to paraphrase Sally Field when she received her academy award, “I like them, I really like them!”
So since I’m a non cookie liker or eater let me explain why I like this version by explaining what it’s not. It’s not the heavy cakey roll out, cut out version, or one with vegetable oil. It has butter because that tastes best and just enough cardamom to make it an interesting variation from the usual ho hum cinnamon.
And you can scoop it out and make it as a drop cookie or do what I do and take several large spoonfuls and roll them into logs. Makes about three foot longs (as shown below:)
…and if you keep them in the freezer you’ll be able to have hot cookies at short notice and you won’t be like that girl who recently posted a You Tube rant about the lack of fresh baked cookies at McDonalds. After watching several minutes of this in slack jawed horror I sort of saw her point (however profanely expressed). Stale cookies nuked at the drive in window just don’t cut it.
The reason you’ll want to make these cookies and ditch your old recipe lies in the lime. Or I should say, the citrus, since I’ve made it with lime, orange, lemon and yes, grapefruit. Even though I’ve specified amounts you are free to use as much or as little zest as you desire. If you want to feel a surge of citrus power that will make your hair stand up like Buckwheat’s by all means use a whole bag of limes or whatever. If you’re a foodie whore and can find it, use Yuzu which is some kind of mutant Japanese lemon. I’ve never cooked with Yuzu because it’s ridiculously expensive when and if you can find it, but once while in Whole Foods I used my thumb nail to dig out a little strip of the rind and boy did it smell good!
After you’ve zested away the perfect amount of rind you’re going to squeeze about a quarter cup of the juice into a pan and boil it down to a tablespoon. Add that and you’re done. It remains only to dip or roll the cookie in sugar spiked with more zest. Raw sugar is great for rolling since it’s grittier and its champagne color complements the look but regular white sugar is fine too.
And last but not least, if you overcook them to the point where they are totally brown – not a problem! You’ll find that they’re a sort of caramelly flavored version of the classic s.c. Good for crumbling over vanilla ice cream or into your gaping maw. Whatever works to transmit the sugar, saturated fat, and carcinogenically dyed and chemically altered maraschino cherries into your exhausted liver.
But still, they taste so good and who knows? Perhaps you’ll dodge that diabetic bullet. It’ll be your own personal Christmas miracle.
- Basic recipe:
- 1¼ cup butter (room temp.)
- 2¼ cups sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 eggs, beaten (if the egg is jumbo, just use one)
- 3 cups flour (1lb)
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- ½ tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. cardamom
- Citrus Flavoring:
- 4 limes, zested (save some zest for the rolling sugar)
- ¼ cup lime juice boiled down to 1 tablespoon
- Rolling sugar:
- Sugar (white or raw)
- zest to taste
- Glaceed cherries
- Preheat oven to 375.
- Zest the four limes & work into the sugar. Do this with your hands rubbing the rind into the sugar for even distribution of both the zest & its oils. If you just stir it in the zest will clump.
- Juice enough of the limes to make a quarter cup and boil down to one tablespoon of lime concentrate & set aside.
- Cream the butter and sugar until light. It's important for the butter to be soft to incorporate the sugar & eggs. In wintertime room temperature may mean a warm kitchen.
- Lightly whisk the eggs with the vanilla and lime reduction and add to butter/sugar.
- Stir the flour, baking soda & salt together and add ½ cup at a time to the mixture.
- Refrigerate the dough for five to ten minutes then scoop out a teaspoon, roll into balls in your hand, roll in some sugar and set on a greased baking sheet. Put back in the fridge for 5 minutes to chill.*
- Cook for about 12 minutes.
- Another option is to use wax paper and make logs. If you do this freeze the logs and slice off ½ inch pieces, roll in zested sugar and bake.
For orange flavoring use 1 very large orange.
For grapefruit flavoring use 1 medium sized pink grapefruit.
For all of these variations use the same quarter cup of juice boiled down to 1 tablespoon.
*It's important for the dough to be cold when you put it in the oven or the cookies will spread too much. If you're slicing them off of a frozen log this won't be a problem but if you're scooping them out of the bowl be sure & put the bowl back in the fridge while the cookies bake.