It gets a little crazy around here at Christmas time… our school year in Australia finishes up in the middle of December, so with Christmas following about a week later and all that that entails… along with plans and thoughts given to the long school break, one would hopefully be forgiven for being slightly absent from the blogosphere over the past couple of weeks.
It’s been a joy though to follow the holiday-time posts of my fellow bloggers and I can personally vouch for Fae’s Persian treat – ‘Sohan’e Qom (Saffron Cardamom Pistachio Brittle)’ along with Suzanne’s ‘Ginger Spiced Molasses Cookies’ – these delicious morsels have been baked and will hopefully be resisted long enough to make it through to Christmas day itself! Oh and if I can find the time, Linda’s ‘Salame di Cioccolato’ is next on my list – it looks fantastic!
I’ve been eyeing off the following shortbread recipe (in ‘Ottolenghi, The Cookbook’) for a while now and felt that with it’s edging of crushed pistachios it would make a fabulous festive cookie. The photo in the cookbook is perhaps a little deceptive in showing the finished shortbreads encrusted in a beautiful, vibrant green. Reality reminded me today that nuts pretty much turn brown when baked for around 20 minutes, leaving any hint of festivity sadly behind. Oh well… what really matters most is that they’re buttery, short and totally delicious… and have been lovingly hand-made!
Now, on to the Gingerbread House!
- 8 Cardamom Pods (or 1 Teaspoon Ground Cardamom)
- 200g/¾ Cup + I Tablespoon Unsalted Butter (softened)
- 25g/3 Tablespoons Ground Rice
- 240g/1⅔ Cup Plain Flour
- ½ Teaspoon Salt
- 35g/⅓ Cup Icing (Powdered) Sugar
- 60g/⅓ Cup Shelled Pistachio Nuts
- 1 Free-Range Egg (lightly beaten)
- 2 Tablespoons Vanilla Sugar
If using the whole cardamom pods – crush the pods using a pestle and mortar, then remove the skins and grind the inner seeds to a fine powder.
Place the butter, ground rice, flour, salt, cardamom and icing sugar into an electric mixer and mix at quite a low speed until the mixture just comes together into a paste. Remove the dough from the machine and shape into a log (about 3-4cm in diameter), dusting with a little extra flour if need be. Wrap the log in cling film and place into the fridge to firm up for about 1-2 hours.
Chop up the pistachios fairly finely and scatter over a flat plate or tray, ready for when the dough comes out of the fridge.
Using a pastry brush, brush the log with the beaten egg and then roll it in the finely chopped pistachios. Wrap the log back up in cling film and refrigerate once again for about 30 minutes.
Pre-heat the oven to 150°C and line a baking tray with parchment/baking paper.
Remove the log from the cling film and slice into 5mm-1cm rounds. Place on the baking tray, allowing about 2cm between each shortbread to allow for spreading. Dust the tops of the shortbread with a little vanilla sugar and place into the oven for about 20 mins until lightly golden.
Allow to cool completely on a wire rack, before serving with a fine cup of tea or coffee.
* Recipe from ‘Ottolenghi, The Cookbook’
Tip: Make up a double batch of this recipe and freeze half of the dough (shaped into a log, wrapped up in cling film and placed in a zip-loc bag) to bake when required… beautiful Pistachio Shortbread on hand, at a moment’s notice.