Somehow I ended up bringing home more nutmeg than I can realistically use in a lifetime. I get way too excited when visiting Middle Eastern and Indian groceries and end up buying spices cheap and in bulk. Five pounds of turmeric for the price charged at Whole Foods for a thimble-full? Why the hell not. My silicone spatulas are perpetually stained a peculiar shade of yellow from all the dals and curries I’ve been making, but I’m not complaining. I just need to use it all up somehow before these spices turn into pantry sawdust, which incidentally means that Alzheimer’s disease is the least of my worries for now.
It’s a completely different story with nutmeg because it’s not a good idea to ingest it in large amounts. Aside from easily overpowering anything, it usually takes a backseat to other ingredients for good reason — it has trace amounts of hallucinogens, giving you one more thing to worry about come mandatory testing day.
Since you’re just dying to use this spice already, here’s a rare recipe that uses nutmeg as a main ingredient. A little goes a long way and a batch of 64 bite-sized cookies calls for an amount barely more than a pinch. It makes all the difference in elevating this basic cookie dough into something much more interesting.
Think Spice, Think Nutmeg hosted by My Diverse Kitchen
recipe adapted from James Oseland’s Cradle of Flavor
Indonesian Nutmeg Tea Cookies
makes approximately 64 bite-size cookies
8 ounces butter (two sticks), at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) whole wheat pastry, regular pastry, or all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- I used whole wheat pastry flour for this cookie dough. In addition to the health benefits from whole grains, the combination of lower protein content (compared to all-purpose flour) with the wheat bran and germ inhibits gluten formation, resulting in a more tender cookie.
Cream the butter with a whisk or electric hand mixer until light and fluffy, about 3 to 6 minutes. Beat in the vanilla extract and egg until thoroughly incorporated.
Stir together the flour, salt, and freshly grated nutmeg in a separate bowl. Add the nutmeg flour to the creamed butter mixture slowly while stirring by hand, just until combined.
Divide the dough into 4 equal portions. Roll each piece of cookie dough into a cylinder about 8 inches long and 1 inch wide. Wrap the log in wax paper or plastic wrap and chill until firm, at least 2 hours or overnight. Something tells me this dough will also benefit from a 36-hour rest in the refrigerator.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Prepare a baking sheet for each cookie dough log. Cut each log into 16 equal pieces, about half an inch thick, and space evenly on the baking sheet. Bake the cookies at 350ºF for 10 minutes, or until lightly golden.
Serve with hot tea or tea-flavored ice cream, depending on weather appropriateness.