Remember when? When I used to talk about finding ordinary magic in the mundane and beauty in the repetition. I’m eating my words right now (and these Chocolate Cardamom Rye Cut-Out Cookies, too). The mundane is more mundane than I ever imagined, and the ordinary is so repetitive these days, it’s almost lost its meaning. We’re living in a never-ending page out of Olivia, where I make breakfast, pick up Edwin the cat the living room pillows, make lunch, pick up the living room pillows, and make dinner. (Minus the baby snuggles that I could never tire of.) And every time I go to post something, I usually press backspace. Backspace, backspace, backspace. I’ve said that already, I say. My life isn’t that inspiring these days, I think. Maybe the mundane isn’t so magic, especially during a pandemic. Ho ho hum.
Kev’s feeling it, too, in his sessions. He’s a psychologist. They’re running out of things to say, he thinks. Nothing has changed since last week or last month or the month before that, he says. We’re all a little lost with nowhere to go.
Hal, what are you up to? Just making stuff like always, she says. She knows something we don’t, we think. Or maybe she knows something we’ve forgotten. Over the last couple of months, she’s made paper shoes and paper books and paper kites and paper stuffed animals and paper dollhouses and paper doll people. Paper hats and paper shirts and paper food and paper bowls. With tape in her arsenal and paper as her weapon, she’s winning the fight against the mundane and making magic out of a pile of paper.
So I pick up the same-ole flour and the butter and the sugar. I turn on the same-ole oven and the mixer, too. I do what I know to do, dot, dot, dot, decorating the cookies in the same old way, like a fair isle sweater. Oh ya, I say. That’s how it’s done, I remember.
If you’re having a hard time wading through the ordinary and the same-ole, same-ole too, I have a little something new for you—a Chocolate Cardamom Rye Cut-Out Cookie. It’s a cookie that’s firm enough to decorate yet soft enough to enjoy and delicious enough to win an arm wrestle with a gingerbread cookie. I first tasted this cocoa-cardamom-rye concoction at the Nordic Winter Party earlier this year. “Can we do something besides a gingerbread cookie?” I asked Brooke of Quince, a Minneapolis catering company, while talking through the menu for the party. “Something with cocoa so it’s dark? Maybe a little cardamom, too?” The flavors were memorable, so memorable, I pulled them out of my head, into the kitchen, and on to the blog. (PS—Brooke has pivoted to pick-up right now. You can order her beautiful food here.)
To make these cookies, you’ll need the usual suspects like flour butter, sugar, eggs, and extract. You’ll also need some special pickups like rye flour, cardamom, and high-quality cocoa powder. (This is my favorite.) The method is familiar and repetitive—whisk the dry ingredients, cream the butter and sugar, then mix it all together. Refrigerate, roll, bake, and decorate. We’ve got this.
Here’s to finding magic in the weeds and in the mundane, in the pantry and in the oven, in a pile of paper and a roll of tape, and in the song that seemingly never ends. I hope you find these Chocolate Cardamom Rye Cut-Out Cookies somewhere along the way. Dot, dot, dot, amen.
The Chocolate Cardamom Rye Cut-Out Cookies stand-in for the more traditional gingerbread cookie. They’re firm enough to decorate, soft enough to enjoy, and delicious enough to eat. Serve iced or not. They’re best either way.
1 1/2 c. (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/3 c. pure cane sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. powdered sugar
1 1/2 tbsp. whole milk
Make the cookies. Whisk together the flours, cocoa powder, cardamom, baking powder, and salt. In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar over medium speed until pale and creamy. Beat in the eggs one at a time and the vanilla until evenly combined, scraping down the sides of the mixer to fully incorporate.
With the mixer on low, add in the flour mixture in 4 additions, scraping down the bowl as needed, until just combined. Divide dough into two separate pieces and wrap in parchment paper, pressing out until about 1 1/2-inches thick. Refrigerate for at least an hour.
Preheat the oven to 350°F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. On a well-floured surface, roll out the dough until about 3/8″ thick, the thicker the better. Dust off excess flour before cutting out cookies and placing on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 8-9 minutes. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for a minute before finishing cooling on a cooling rack. Reroll and cut out remaining dough, again being sure to dust off excess flour before baking.
Make the icing. In a small bowl, whisk together the icing ingredients until completely smooth. In a plastic sandwich bag folded over a cup, add icing. Snip a very tiny corner off the edge of the bag and pipe tiny dots on the cookies. Vary sizes of dots of visual interest. Use a toothpick to pull dots into a heart or point. Look at Nordic patterns and fair isle sweaters for guidance. Once the icing hardens (this happens really fast) store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Thinner cookies will bake in a shorter amount of time whereas thicker cookies will need a bit more time to bake.
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