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Orange-Cardamom Star Cookies
December 21, 2010, 8:12 pm
Filed under: desserts, recipes | Tags: , , ,

On a rainy day I found myself baking Scandinavian Christmas cookies with my little nieces.  When you’re looking for a cookie to roll out and stamp with cookie cutters, I would recommend these stars.  They are more fragrant and flavorful than most roll-out cookies, packed with orange zest, cardamom, and molasses.  Cardamom is ever-so-prevalent in Scandinavian baking, and the orange zest adds a perfect seasonal brightness.  My nieces wanted to lean over the bowl to smell the dough again and again, enchanted with the complex fragrance.

The cookie is adapted from a recipe in Diana Henry’s cookbook Roast Figs Sugar Snow, a terrific cookbook of winter foods.  I made these twice in the past week, and have made 2 alterations.  I added a few extra tablespoons of milk to her recipe because I found her dough to be so crumbly that it wouldn’t pull together.  My other alteration is the addition of salt in the second batch — just a scant quarter teaspoon makes a difference.  I generally prefer a bit of salt in my desserts.

I left the first batch plain without decoration, but my nieces wanted to decorate the second batch with frosting and sprinkles.  Apparently these cookies are typically frosted all over Scandinavia, except for Sweden where they are left plain.  We spread the icing smoothly across the cookies and tossed on sprinkles and colored sugar.  You might choose instead to drizzle the icing with the tines of a fork, or pipe it with a piping set.


1/4 Cup butter (1/2 stick)

1/3 Cup brown sugar

4 tablespoons of milk (Ms. Henry calls for 2, but 4 worked better for me)

1 tablespoon molasses

2 Cups flour

scant teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest (zest of one orange)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

To Decorate (optional):

1 egg white

squeeze of 1 lemon

enough powdered sugar to make a stiff paste


1. Cream the butter and sugar in a mixer.  Add the milk and molasses and blend until smooth.

2. Stir in all the other ingredients and bring together into a ball.

3. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight (or at least 2 hours).

4. Preheat the oven to 350F.  Roll the dough out to 1/8-inch thick.  Stamp out the cookies with a star-shaped cookie cutter and place them on a baking sheet.  (They will not expand much, so you can place them close together on the baking sheet).

5. Bake the cookies for 7-8 minutes at 350F.  Leave to cool on a wire rack.

6. To decorate, mix the egg white with a squeeze of lemon juice.  Add enough sifted powdered sugar to make a firm paste.  Either decorate by drizzling lines with the tines of a fork, use a piping set for a fancy design, or spread the icing across and top with sprinkles or colored sugar.

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[…] recipes for cold weather, gathered from Northern Europe and New England.  Last winter I shared the orange-cardamom star cookies from the same cookbook.   My favorite chocolate-rosemary sorbet comes from her cookbook Crazy […]

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