Years ago, I fell in love with the Cinnamon Stars cookie recipe from the Crabtree and Evelyn Cookbook. They became a holiday staple for me, and once, I made a batch times ten – 300 cookies – for a volunteer event at The Seniors Place in Houston. My son was a small boy at the time and we did the baking together, then went to their location and partnered with seniors to make Christmas boxes. It was a really good experience for both of us… good times.
But as much as I loved the recipe, I knew it could be amped up. “Cinnamon Stars” really needed to be spicier, Christmas-spicier, in my humble opinion. That wasn’t hard; I added cardamom and nutmeg and switched the butter from unsalted to salted. I also went ‘au naturale’ on the topping, eschewing the dyed sugar crystals in favor of turbinado, and reinforcing it with more spice.
That’s what we do at Glover Gardens – add more spice. Thus, the cookies became “Holiday Spice Stars,” because “Cinnamon Stars” was just a little too pedestrian.
Here’s the recipe:
Holiday Spice Stars
These star-shaped cookies are deceptive; their look is humble but the taste is super-sophisticated, with a depth of flavor that comes from multiple spices that the 3 Wise Men might've brought on a starry, starry night.
- *Cookie Dough
- 1 c. flour
- 1 1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp. cardamom
- Pinch salt
- ½ c. salted butter, softened
- ½ c. firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1 lg. egg yolk
- 1 tbsp. turbinado sugar
- Pinch cinnamon
- Pinch nutmeg
- Step 1 Sift flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom and salt together in a small bowl. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and brown sugar together until light and fluffy. Add egg yolk and beat until light. Add flour mixture and blend well. Put the dough into the small bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight. When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 F.
- Step 2 In a very small bowl, mix the topping ingredients.
- Step 3 After at least an hour, remove the dough from the refrigerator and divide in half, putting the other half back in the refrigerator to stay cool while you roll out the first half. Put the first half on a lightly floured surface or wax paper, top with a little more flour and wax paper, and then roll out to 1/8 inch thick. Using a 2.5 or 3-inch star-shaped cookie cutter, cut out cookies and place them on a lightly greased baking sheet.
- Step 4 Sprinkle cookies with topping mix of sugar and spices. Bake in the center of the oven for 7-8 minutes, or until firm and browning around the edges. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.
- Step 5 Repeat the process: roll and cut out the second half of the dough with a smaller star cookie cutter (if you have it), arrange on a baking sheet and sprinkle with the remaining topping mix of sugar and spices, then bake as directed for the first batch, checking a little earlier since the cookies are smaller. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.
- Step 6 Once cool, store the cookies in a tightly covered container.
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These cookies are a bit of work when you roll them out as directed in the recipe, but they’re worth it! They are also perfect for use with a cookie press.
I usually make them for Christmas, but they make great Valentine’s gifts if you use a heart-shaped cookie cutter or insert for the cookie press.
If you’re really in a hurry, you can just shape them into a log and slice them after refrigerating for a half-hour for a homemade version of “slice ‘n’ bake”.
You can use the same cookie cutter for all the cookies, but I think it is more fun and more attractive to have different sizes. Here’s the cookie cutter set I use, only the two smaller ones.
As noted above in the recipe, these cookies are not aesthetically fancy in any way.
They are little brown wafers.
But oh my Dears, the taste! They are sophisticated like something you’d have at the Kensington Palace afternoon tea. Or at The Dorchester Hotel, where I once had a glass of champagne on my 40th birthday that cost the same as my years. (Ouch!) Did I mention champagne? These cookies partner very well with a glass of dry bubbles, and also with coffee (naughty or nice, i.e. with or without a fortifier like Kahlua or Bailey’s).
Don’t you just want one right now???
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