Garam Masala & Candied Ginger Cookies

Garam Masala and Candied Ginger Cookies

On the tenth day of Christmas … my true love gave to me … Garam Masala & Candied Ginger Cookies.

If you have been following along on this year’s Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Starry Night bake-a-thon, you know this is my year for putting tradition aside and pushing the holiday cookie flavor envelope.

Perhaps this particular cookie pushes the envelope to its most extreme so far. I don’t imagine that these cookies will ring everyone’s Christmas bells, but I must tell you I am already nearly addicted to them.

Garam Masala & Candied Ginger Cookies on Silver Plate

If you’re like me, on the first bite you might think, “What the @#$%^$!” Then on the second bite, the thought shifts to, “Wait a minute, this is Interesting.” Then by the third bite, you are full on IN LOVE. Actually this also describes my first encounters with MauiJim, but I digress.

I wish I could tell you to go ahead and use a good curry powder (Madras brand) if you don’t want to make LunaCafe’s Garam Masala, but alas, I can’t do it. I created this blend especially for these cookies, and it took three tests to get it juuuust right, as Goldilocks likes to say. Earthy flavors, while potentially great in savory dishes, don’t work as well in these delicate cookies.

Garam Malsala & Candied Ginger Cookie Closeup

Garam Masala & Candied Ginger Cookies

These crisp, crunchy, incredibly buttery cookies will fill your entire house with the most incredible aroma. And every time you open the cookie tin, you’ll get another  hit.  Ah, the magic of Christmas…

2½ cups King Arthur unbleached, all-purpose flour 
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup fine cornmeal

1½ cups unsalted butter (3 sticks)
1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons LunaCafe Garam Masala (recipe below)
1/4 cup minced candied ginger

colored sanding sugars

  1. In a large mixing bowl, sift the flour and salt. Stir in the cornmeal. Reserve.
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar.  Incorporate the Garam Masala well and then briefly incorporate the candied ginger.
  3. Add the flour mixture and mix very briefly on very slow speed, just until a dough forms.
  4. Using a #70 scoop (1 tablespoon) with a release mechanism, scoop balls of dough, leveling each ball with the edges of the scoop. (Thus each ball will have one flat surface.)
  5. You can arrange the dough balls closely together on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and chill for as long as a couple of days, or proceed immediately to baking.
  6. Coat a baking sheet lightly with vegetable spray. Arrange 12 cookie balls, flat sides down, 2 inches apart, on the baking sheet.
  7. Lay a sheet of waxed paper over the cookies and using a meat pounder or other heavy, flat object, gently flatten each cookie ball to a ¼-inch thickness.
  8. Impress the cookies with any design you like. I used the end of a triangular shaped ruler to create a star indent in the center of each cookie.
  9. Sprinkle sanding sugar heavily into the indents so that the impressed design clearly shows.
  10. Bake each sheet of cookies at 350° for about 15 minutes, rotating the pan at the halfway point to ensure even browning.
  11. Remove from the oven, loosen each cookie with a thin spatula and let cool for 3-4 minutes on the pan. Remove cookies from the cookie sheet and place on a wire rack and cool completely.
  12. Store airtight, in layers separated by wax paper rounds, in a cookie tin in a cool, dry place. These cookies improve with age. They keep for 3-4 weeks. Cookies may also be frozen.

Toasting Spices for Garam Masala

LunaCafe’s Garam Masala

Garam Masala, the basic spice blend of Northern India, is a blend of hot or warm spices. The heat refers not only to the spicy hot flavor but also to the effect these spices generate in one’s body. This particular Garam Masala, my own special blend, is milder tasting that most curry powders. Coriander and cumin dominate the flavor here.

1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cardamom seeds
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1½-inch length cinnamon stick
½ teaspoon whole cloves
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper

  1. Heat a heavy sauté pan and add all of the spices. Dry roast the spices over medium-high heat, stirring and turning constantly, until fragrant, about 4-5 minutes.
  2. Remove from the heat immediately and pour into a dish to cool
  3. Using a spice grinder, grind the spices to a powder.
  4. Store airtight in a cool dry location for up to three months.

Makes ¼ cup.



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  1. Alan Barrington says

    What possible use is the corn meal?
    We tried (expensively) to make these. The corn meal, no matter that we ground it in a spice mill, made them uneatable. Corn needs some liquid to get soft. Otherwise it is like eating sand.

    • Susan S. Bradley says

      Alan, cornmeal cookies are a tradition of Italian cuisine. They add a crunchy texture and wonderful flavor. I adore them. Use a fine ground cornmeal, not cornmeal grits.

  2. Mary says

    I came across this recipe while looking for an interesting recipe to sink my extra candied ginger into. It sounded so interesting I just had to try it. I had some doubts but you were right. By the end of the first cookie I was in love with them and people I’ve given them to seem to like them too. Although when I toasted the spices man did it smell up the whole house.

    • Susan S. Bradley says

      Mary, so glad you tried and liked them. I think they should make a perfume out of those spices. I’d wear it, for sure. :-)

  3. says

    Sounds lovely. I made a version of garam masala for rice krispie treats once. I upped the cinnamon, nutmeg and clove content, but still had cumin, coriander, and bay leaf in there. Makes a totally interesting dessert. I’m sure these cookies are great!

  4. Patti says

    OMG! I can’t wait to make these Garam Masala spiced cookies. I’m totally addicted to Garam Masala in just about everything savory, so cookies will be just another avenue to continue my own indulgence. Thank you for pushing the envelope on these!


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