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A Final Cookie for December. Well, Maybe…

CardSquaresI made these tasty squares for my office holiday party a week ago. I baked these cookies four years ago without the chocolate-espresso icing. This time I opted to spread a little of this icing on one side of the cookie to allow a a bite or two of the cookie with chocolate. The cookie is strong enough (just like Cher) with or without additions. O.K. That’s not true–Cher, not the cookie. Use freshly-ground cardamom It really adds a deep, exotic complexity to the shortbread.

Recipe after the jump.

Cardamom Butter Squares

For cookies
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

For espresso and chocolate icings
1 teaspoon instant-espresso powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons milk
1 cup confectioners sugar
3 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), melted

Special equipment: 2 small heavy-duty sealable plastic bags (for icing; not pleated)

preparation

Make cookies:

Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cardamom, cinnamon, and allspice in a bowl.

Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes in a stand mixer (preferably fitted with paddle attachment) or 4 minutes with a handheld. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Reduce speed to low, then mix in flour mixture until just combined.

Form dough into 2 (12-inch) logs (1 1/2 inches in diameter), each on its own sheet of plastic wrap. Use plastic wrap and your hands to roll, press, and square off sides of logs. Chill logs on a baking sheet until slightly firm, about 1 hour, then smooth logs with plastic wrap and flat side of a ruler to achieve straight sides. Chill logs on baking sheet until firm, about 1 hour.

Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 350°F.

Cut enough scant 1/4-inch-thick slices from a log with a knife to fill 2 large ungreased baking sheets, arranging slices about 1 inch apart (chill remaining dough, wrapped in plastic wrap).

Bake cookies, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until edges are golden, 10 to 12 minutes total. Cool on sheets 3 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool completely. Make more cookies with remaining dough on cooled baking sheets.

Ice cookies:

Whisk together espresso powder, vanilla, and 1 1/2 tablespoons milk until espresso powder is dissolved, then add confectioners sugar and enough additional milk to make a thick but pourable icing. Spoon into a sealable bag and snip 1/8 inch off a bottom corner.

Spoon melted chocolate into another sealable bag and snip 1/8 inch off a bottom corner.

Pipe some espresso icing and chocolate over each cookie and let cookies stand on racks until icing sets, about 2 hours.

Cooks’ notes:
· Dough logs can be chilled 5 days or frozen, wrapped in a double layer of plastic wrap, 1 month (thaw in refrigerator just until they can be sliced). · Cookies (with or without icing) keep, layered between sheets of wax paper or parchment, in an airtight container at room temperature 1 week.

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