Christmas Baking (Part Two of Three): Buttery Lemon Tea Cakes

Depending on which part of the world you’re in, small, dome-shaped cookies made with butter and rolled in spiced sugar may be called snickerdoodles, Mexican wedding cakes or Russian Tea Cakes. What they are is actually a much richer, moreish variation on shortbread. Traditionally, these are flavored with vanilla or almond extract and either nutmeg or clove. The cookies are then rolled in cinnamon sugar before baking.

My version of these cookies, however, tastes lighter than those made using traditional recipes. For one thing, the seeming heaviness of vanilla is replaced by the perkier taste of lemon. For another, I prefer to use nutty-tasting ground cardamom for both flavoring and rolling in. The lemon-cardamom combo is a wonderful contrast: a nutty tanginess that balances the buttery-rich sweetness of the cookies.