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Cardamom & Browned Butter Cookies -- All Wrapped Up for the Holidays!

Cardamom & Browned Butter Cookies -- All Wrapped Up for the Holidays!

By Liz
December 03, 2009
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Holiday baking is on! I love to bake for gifts, too, so I'm also on the hunt for festive packaging options. For the kids' teachers, we decided to make Browned Butter Cardamom Cookies. We have a little time, so I decided to make a test batch and get a little feedback.

The first step is browning the butter. I called my Grandma to get some background on browned butter -- it's a favorite ingredient she loves to make for the frosting on her vanilla cake. Grandma clarified that browning butter is quite simple but it does require your full attention. I concur.

First, the butter melts and then moves into a foamy stage.


After a minute or two, it turns frothy and bubbly...


Keep a close eye on it when it turns frothy, because it's only a minute or two away from turning a golden color. This is not the time to answer the phone or admire the color! Right away, when it is golden and you might see little brown bits at the bottom of the pan, remove it from the heat and pour it into a bowl.


My kids came in to watch and the whole thing was like a mesmerizing science experiment. The kids especially loved that the butter smelled like caramel as it was browning.

When the froth settles, the butter will be a clear golden color, with tiny toffee-like bits of browned butter at the bottom of the bowl.


Now just put the bowl in the fridge for 30 minutes while you gather the other ingredients for the dough. I like to grind whole cardamom seeds for fresh-ground flavor. Buy the seeds already taken out of the pod so they're ready to grind.


I use a grinder that fits on my spice jar and is similar to a pepper grinder, but you can also use a clean coffee grinder.

ground cardamom

Once the butter has cooled, mixing the dough is easy. First you mix the sugar and browned butter. Use a spatula to get all of those delicious browned bits!


Add the other ingredients per the recipe and the dough is ready for shaping. The dough isn't crumbly, but it isn't gooey either.


Shape your dough into 1-inch balls. I like to measure them with a ruler to make sure they're the right size. This helps ensure I end up with the four dozen cookies the recipe indicates, and that my baking times will match the recipe.


After baking, cool the cookies briefly for one minute. Handle them carefully as they are a little delicate.


After a minute, gently roll them in a bowl of powdered sugar. I squished one and it broke right in the powdered sugar bowl so it had to be eaten. My daughter said, "I like when you accidentally squish them."  This only happened once, but she kept hanging around, hoping... When the cookies are cool, roll them in sugar a second time.


After two rollings in powdered sugar, you could give them a final dusting on top by tapping the sugar through a small mesh strainer to make them extra beautiful.


Then, I put them into mini paper baking cups (1.25" diameter) and, finally, into a cheery red tin I'd found at the craft store.


First, we sampled the cookies. The taste and texture surpassed all expectations. "If this is old-fashioned, then I'm going to live with Grandma!" said my 12-year-old. My teenager snuck a cookie every time I turned my head. "Mmmmm. They have a mellow richness to them but they're not too sweet. But I better try another to be sure," said my husband. We loved the delicate, almost airy yet crispy first bite that melts into a buttery, nutty, cardamom nothingness.


Then, I decorated my tin and printed a cute snowman holiday gift tag from our website to see exactly how our cookies would look in holiday attire. We all approved! We also experimented with some fun gift bags we'd been given by a friend. They worked great, too!


All in all, our four dozen tiny test cookies lasted less than 24 hours -- a testament to their worthiness as a holiday gift!

Be sure to try this recipe for Browned Butter Cardamom Cookies, as a gift or just as a treat for yourself or holiday visitors. I'd love to hear your comments. Don't forget to rate and review this cookie too on the site. Then stop back in a few days for more holiday cookie baking. 'Tis the season!

Liz is paid to write for the Land O'Lakes Recipe Buzz™ Blog.

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I'd really like to try this recipe but I'm not sure what butter to use - salted/unsalted - a weight measurement rather than the 'cup' specified would be really useful.

Posted March 17, 2012 by Tamara
Test Kitchen Comment
From: Cindy
First - you question which butter to use, salted or unsalted. Each butter works just fine in this recipe. Since this is a shortbread-type cookie you may choose to use unsalted butter since it offers a natural butter flavor. But, etither type of butter works just fine. The weight measure of the butter should be 8 ounces or 1 cup.
Posted March 25, 2012

These were so good! I used the extra amount of cardamom and it was just about perfect!

Posted December 22, 2011 by Vanessa B.

The best rule of thumb: only include cookies as gifts when first they are a hit with the family! This blog is a highly proficient lesson in the touchy method of browning butter for your recipe. This is a subtle trick for enhancing the flavor of your cookies. A truly tasty cookie to add to my Recipe Box!

Posted November 13, 2011 by Jean C.

jt! Agreed. These are amazing.

Posted December 15, 2010 by Liz L-G

I love these cookies

Posted December 14, 2010 by jt