Cardamom and coffee blondies

Coffee and cardamom blondies | Me & The Moose. These bar cookies are spiced, sweet, and dense, require one bowl, and are great for a crowd. #meandthemoose #blondies #coffee #cardamom #batchbaking #Christmasbaking #uniquedesserts #easydessertrecipes

Growing up, we made chocolate chip cookies a lot and there was always a cookie that wound up with, like, one chocolate chip…and I secretly preferred those. I know, right? BIZARRE. But I still have a soft spot for chocolate-less desserts.

I ALSO have a soft spot for anything with cardamom. We used to visit a chainlet of restaurants in NYC that served cardamom coffee and it felt like such a unique indulgence. The cardamom and the strong coffee paired perfectly with a bit of sugar.

Anyway, these blondies bring me right back to that little cafe with a mini M eating dosas and drinking that brew.

As I mentioned last week, bar cookies are SO MUCH EASIER when cooking for a crowd and these beauties couldn’t be easier. They only require one bowl and the butter gets partially melted at the beginning. These guys are ready in about 40 minutes start to finish (and that’s if you go slooooowly.)

A couple of notes:

  • I used decaf espresso because the last thing my energetic toddler needs is caffeine. OMG. If you don’t have those concerns, feel free to use regular espresso. If you don’t have an espresso maker, strong coffee will do in a pinch, but I recommend heading to your local coffee place and ordering a double shot of espresso to bring home for this recipe.

  • If you prefer a more cake-like texture and subtler flavor, add a second egg to the batter. You end up with a lighty spicy and sweet cake with an airier crumb. Using a single egg yields a denser, more brownie-like consistency and much stronger flavor. M loved both.

Coffee and cardamom blondies | Me & The Moose. These bar cookies are spiced, sweet, and dense, require one bowl, and are great for a crowd. #meandthemoose #blondies #coffee #cardamom #batchbaking #Christmasbaking #uniquedesserts #easydessertrecipes
Coffee and cardamom blondies | Me & The Moose. These bar cookies are spiced, sweet, and dense, require one bowl, and are great for a crowd. #meandthemoose #blondies #coffee #cardamom #batchbaking #Christmasbaking #uniquedesserts #easydessertrecipes
Coffee and cardamom blondies | Me & The Moose. These bar cookies are spiced, sweet, and dense, require one bowl, and are great for a crowd. #meandthemoose #blondies #coffee #cardamom #batchbaking #Christmasbaking #uniquedesserts #easydessertrecipes

Cardamom and coffee blondies


12 Tbsp butter (1 1/2 sticks)
1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed and slightly domed
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
3 Tbsp brewed espresso (decaf or regular)
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1½ tsp baking powder (½ Tbsp) 
¾ tsp salt
1 scant tsp ground cardamom (measure out a teaspoon and then knock some out to avoid any bitterness)

Preheat the oven to 350.

In a large mixing bowl, melt the butter halfway so that it has some shape left, but is beginning to pool on the bottom (this usually takes about 45 seconds- 1 minute on high in our microwave).

Add the sugars, vanilla extract, egg, and espresso and mix well.

Add the dry ingredients and mix until no streaks or lumps remain.

Pour into a 9x9 baking pan that has either been greased with more butter or lined with parchment allowing an overhang so you can get the blondies out more easily.

Bake for 20-24 minutes, until the blondies are set and springy in the middle.

Yield: 16 medium-sized pieces.

Coffee and cardamom blondies | Me & The Moose. These bar cookies are spiced, sweet, and dense, require one bowl, and are great for a crowd. #meandthemoose #blondies #coffee #cardamom #batchbaking #Christmasbaking #uniquedesserts #easydessertrecipes
Coffee and cardamom blondies | Me & The Moose. These bar cookies are spiced, sweet, and dense, require one bowl, and are great for a crowd. #meandthemoose #blondies #coffee #cardamom #batchbaking #Christmasbaking #uniquedesserts #easydessertrecipes

Cardamom and pistachio meltaways (and a healthier option!)

Cardamom and pistachio meltaways | Me & The Moose. This unusual spin on the classic Christmas cookie is both unique and familiar at the same time. #meandthemoose #cardamomandpistachiomeltaways #christmasbaking #christmascookies #cookierecipes #meltaways #Russianteacakes #Mexicanweddingcookies

These cookie are GOOD, y'all. Sorry, I've been watching a marathon of Fixer Upper while writing, which is really the only logical reason for this Yankee to use the word "y'all." Anyway, I've called these cookies "meltaways," but they're the treat of 1000 names: Snowballs, Butterballs, Russian tea cakes, Mexican wedding cookies, meltaways, you name it. At their core, these are egg-free, simple cookies that are a little crumbly, very buttery, and subtly sweet. Adding in cardamom and pistachio just makes them a tiny bit more interesting.

I tested this recipe more than was technically necessary (not sorry). But it felt like there were many possible variations that would radically change the final product, so here are a few lessons:

1) Buy already roasted and shelled pistachios, if you can. Trader Joe's calls them "nutmeats" which is just awful. But your fingertips will thank you.
2) Use unsalted nuts even though you're adding salt to the batter.
3) The amount of cardamom in the recipe is for a new or newish bottle. If you can smell the cardamom when you open the bottle, use the amount listed. If you have to really stick your nose close to the spice to smell it, increase the amount to taste. I used the dregs of a VERY old bottle of cardamom in my initial recipe and I had to more than double the amount used to get the taste I wanted. Then I tried with a brand new bottle and 1/2 tsp was more than enough. So, get friendly with your spices to judge for yourself.

One unfortunate side effect of all this cookie testing was that I ate cookies for breakfast more than once. Not exactly the meal of champions. But there is a healthier way to enjoy this combo: Cardamom, pistachio, and honey yogurt.

Cardamom, pistachio, and honey yogurt | Me & The Moose. A little spice, some good fat from the nuts, and a little bit of honey make this a special, wholesome holiday breakfast.  #meandthemoose #cardamomandpistachio #yogurt #Christmasbreakfast #breakfastrecipes

Cardamom, pistachio, and honey yogurt

1/2 cup yogurt
1-2 tsp honey
1 Tbsp crushed pistachios, divided
pinch cardamom

Yield: 1 portion

Combine yogurt and honey to taste. Stir in 2 tsp crushed pistachios and a pinch of cardamom. Sprinkle 1 tsp crushed pistachios on top. Serve with blackberries (optional). A note about the appropriateness of this for little guys: Obviously, the honey makes this a food for one-year-olds and older, but you could substitute some pear or apple puree for a younger baby. M would have gagged on the pistachio crumbles when he was in the puree phase, so I attempted to make pistachio butter from inspiration I found here and here. Thanks to the Cuisenart recall, our large food processor is out of commission until we get the replacement blade and the little one wasn't cutting it. I'll definitely try this once we have the right tools again.

Cardamom and pistachio meltaways | Me & The Moose. This unusual spin on the classic Christmas cookie is both unique and familiar at the same time. #meandthemoose #cardamomandpistachiomeltaways #christmasbaking #christmascookies #cookierecipes #meltaways #Russianteacakes #Mexicanweddingcookies

Cardamom and pistachio meltaways

Adapted from Bon Appetit
1 cup roasted, shelled pistachios
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
6 Tbsp powdered sugar, divided   
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp cardamom
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ tsp lemon zest

Preheat the oven to 350. Grind the pistachios in a food processor or spice grinder to desired consistency and set aside. Or just put them in a bag and whack them with something heavy. (The holidays are stressful, no judgment.)

Cream the butter and 2 Tbsp of sugar (whip on high for 3-4 minutes until the butter gets a little lighter, increases slightly in volume, and is shiny). Add the vanilla and beat for 1 more minute. Add the flour, cardamom, salt, lemon zest, and pistachios and beat on low until just combined.

Scoop 1 Tbsp of dough at a time, roll into a ball, and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with all of the batter. Bake for 7 minutes, rotate the pan, and bake for 7 more minutes, until the cookies start browning on the bottom and form tiny cracks on top (but too much cracking means dry cookies, so be careful not to overbake).

Let cool completely. Place the remaining 4 Tbsp of powdered sugar in a bowl and roll the cooled cookies in the sugar, one at a time. Leave out for a few hours before storing: This helped keep the sugar from dissolving into the cookies, I found.

Yield: 15 cookies.

Cardamom and pistachio meltaways | Me & The Moose. This unusual spin on the classic Christmas cookie is both unique and familiar at the same time. #meandthemoose #cardamomandpistachiomeltaways #christmasbaking #christmascookies #cookierecipes #meltaways #Russianteacakes #Mexicanweddingcookies