I didn't think it was possible, but I've found a way to make most of my favorite holiday recipes even better: fresh ground nutmeg. I'm sure you've seen recipes call for fresh ground nutmeg and thought, “Fresh, pre-grated, whatever…it's all the same spice.” It isn't. At all. Trust me, normally I'm one to cut corners whenever possible (why make more dishes than necessary?), but someone suggested I try fresh nutmeg in my pumpkin pie and now I'll never go back. Apparently nutmeg rapidly loses its flavor after it's been ground, so pre-ground is not at all the same as fresh. They have tiny graters made just for spices. I grate mine right into the teaspoon, but for reference: one whole nutmeg equals 2-3 teaspoons ground nutmeg.

Whole Ungrated Nutmeg

And here's the perfect recipe to try out this new technique: pumpkin cookies! This is my own take on a recipe I originally got from AllRecipes.com. Hopefully you have left-over cans of pumpkin from Thanksgiving. If not, now is the perfect time to snag some on sale.

Cookie Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cups white sugar
  • 3/4 cups brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients

  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1  teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, and salt; set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together the 1/2 cup of butter with the white sugar and brown sugar. Add pumpkin, egg, and 1 teaspoon vanilla to butter mixture, and beat until creamy. Mix in dry ingredients. Drop on cookie sheet by tablespoonfuls; flatten slightly.
  3. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Cool cookies.
  4. For frosting: In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Mix in the vanilla, then gradually stir in the confectioners' sugar to taste (some people like it sweeter, others like it less sweet – taste as you go until it's right).