One of the very first times I met Sarah, it was at a local blogger brunch at Melissa‘s house. Sarah brought danishes from her then forthcoming cookbook, The Vanilla Bean Baking Book. They looked perfect. They tasted perfect. It was at that moment that I knew, instantly, Sarah and I are kindred baking spirits and I couldn’t wait to get my oven mitts on her book.
Fast-forward nearly a year and a half later and here we are — the book is here in my hand, the oven is on and I am finding myself once again drooling over those amazing danishes on page 65. But also over the Lemon Bread on page 96. And the Blood Orange No-Churn Ice Cream on page 283. But of course, also, over these chocolate cardamom cookies, which can be found on page 246, on my kitchen counter and in my belly.
The Vanilla Bean Baking Book reads like a warm hug from an old friend. It’s the kind of book you keep on your shelf for generations — the one that grandkids and great-grandkids will thumb through when they come to visit, pages splattered over decades with butter and cocoa powder, the spine cracked and worn, begging with big eyes for that lemon bread. Or maybe it will be those danishes, filled in the centers with cream cheese or apricot jam. Or maybe it will be these chocolate cardamom cookies, with their crackled tops, crispy edges and chewy centers, oversized and full of rich, bittersweet chocolate flavor. In any case, I wouldn’t be surprised if one of my “legendary” baking recipes, the kind that get passed down through the family all well-worn and loved, comes straight from Sarah’s book. It’s got that potential.
This recipe in Sarah’s book is actually for chocolate sugar cookies and the cardamom addition is a suggested variation, and I thought it perfect for the holiday season. I gave a few of these away to Avery’s teachers (bless them for taking care of our small children on snowy days and rainy days and pretty much any day that ends in Y) and the rest went straight into our bellies. My husband and I agree these are some of the best cookies we’ve ever had, ever. Ever. And I’ve had a lot of cookies in my day. Suffice it to say, it won’t be long before another batch of these cookies ends up on my kitchen counter — likely along with those danishes. I just can’t wait.
Don’t forget to order yourself (or someone you love!) a copy of The Vanilla Bean Baking Book, and get excited for cookies in your near future.
- 1¾ cups (249 g) all-purpose flour
- ½ cup (50 g) natural cocoa powder or a combination cocoa powder
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (227 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1¾ cups (347 g) sugar, plus 1 cup (198 g) for rolling
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom (optional)
- Adjust an oven rack to the middle position. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter on medium until smooth. Add the 1¾ cups sugar and beat on medium until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and beat on medium until combined. Add the flour mixture and beat on low until just combined.
- Place the remaining 1 cup sugar in a medium bowl. Stir in cardamom, if desired.
- Form the cookies into 3-ounce (85 g) balls (a scant ⅓ cup each). Roll each ball in the sugar and place 6 cookies on each prepared sheet pan. Bake one sheet at a time 11 to 14 minutes, until the edges have set and the centers are puffed and starting to crackle.
- Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack and let the cookies cool completely on the pan.