1stickunsalted butter, softened but cool(4 ounces, 8 tablespoons)
1egg, at room temperature
1 1/3cupsall-purpose flour
1teaspooncream of tartar
The spiced sugar:
1 1/2teaspoonsblack cardamom seeds (from about 15 green pods), ground finely in a coffee or spice grinder to make a generous 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 375º. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, or in a bowl with a wooden spoon, cream the butter and sugar until lightened and fluffy, 3 minutes. Beat in the egg, then the vanilla, scraping down the bowl and paddle as necessary.
In a separate bowl, sift or whisk together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt. Add the dries to the butter mixture with the mixer on low, mixing until just combined. Give the batter a final turn by hand to make sure it is homogeneous.
Combine the sugar and the ground cardamom in a smallish bowl. Drop 1" balls of dough (I like to use the #40 purple-handled spring-loaded ice cream scoop) into the sugar three or four at a time and roll to coat. Place the balls on the parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing them 2 - 3" apart (they will spread a lot). Sprinkle about 1/8 teaspoon of spiced sugar on top of the balls.
Bake the cookies for about 10 minutes, rotating front to back and top to bottom halfway through, until the edges are just turning golden, but the centers are still soft. Cool the cookies for a few minutes on the baking sheets, then remove them to a cooling rack.
The cookies are at their peak a few hours after baking, when the cardamom flavor comes out, and the cookies are still soft. They will keep for a day or two in an airtight container at room temperature.
Adapted from Sweet! by Mani Niall.As the flavor of cardamom dissipates quickly, grind your own from whole, black seeds (found within the green pods) for the best flavor. Crush open the pods, remove the seeds, and grind them in a spice or coffee grinder. The amount I used here gave the cookies a mild spice; for more spice, use 2 teaspoons of seeds, which when ground will make 1 tablespoon cardamom powder.Nutritional values are based on one of twenty four cookies.