These pistachio, rosewater and cardamom shortbread cookies…aren't half bad. Now you're probably thinking that "not half bad" isn't exactly a ringing endorsement but you've got to consider the source. Which would be me. A lifelong hater of all things nut and a person who would rather be stuck in a sulphur pit than a subway car full of women who've doused themselves in rose perfume. So when I say that cookies with nuts and rosewater aren't half bad, it translates to "OMG! ARE THESE, LIKE, THE BEST COOKIES EVAR, OR WHAT?"
I've harbored a major hate for nuts my entire life—it's both a taste and a texture thing. I can pick out a nut blindfolded, they'll seriously ruin whatever it is I'm eating and yes, even at my advanced age, I'll make a face and spit 'em out. But let's face it, the world isn't kind to the nut averse. They're EVERYwhere. In EVERYthing. So at least once a year, I'll make an attempt to get over my aversion. And after decades of trying, I've gotten to the point where I can just barely tolerate pistachios and cashews and that's it. I'll occasionally eat them out of hand but still can't eat them mixed into food. So of course, when the theme for this month's Creative Cookie Exchange was Nuts in Cookies (I knew it had to come sometime), and we had the option of NOT baking with nuts, I went ahead and baked with them anyway. Glutton for punishment, that's me. Especially when cookies are also made with rosewater.
Oppressively heavy floral scents are another of my (many) dislikes, with rose at the top of the list. I know that when used with a clunky hand, rose essence in food can be gag-inducing but when used sparingly, it was a bit of a revelation to me. It's not heavy or overly floral at all. In fact, I'd describe the flavor as citrus-y and I've actually become a fan. So in searching for a nutty cookie when I came upon these, I figured the rosewater and cardamom—and the crunch of a good shortbread, probably my favorite cookie—could help disguise the pistachios. And they did. Almost.
Since I know I'm biased, I brought a big batch of these to work so they could be scrutinized by the Official Shaggy Dough Taste Testing Team and they were an unqualified hit. Everyone loved the shortbread texture and the flavors (pistachio, rose and cardamom are a very Persian combo and these cookies were originally inspired by Nowruz, the Iranian new year). Three dozen cookies barely lasted til lunchtime. And dare I say that when I made the second batch over the weekend, someone who will remain nameless (moi, but I'll deny it) was seen nibbling on more than one. So yeah, not half bad.
Be sure to check out the links below to see what the nut-loving Creative Cookie Exchange bakers came up with.
Pistachio, Rosewater and Cardamom Shortbread Cookies
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 3/4 cup confectioner's (powdered) sugar
- 1 tsp rosewater
- 1 tsp ground cardamom, preferably freshly ground
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup salted, shelled pistachios, coarsely chopped (see notes)
- sparkling sugar (optional)
- Add the butter to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream at medium speed for about one minute.
- Add the sugar, rosewater and cardamom and mix on low speed. As soon as the ingredients come together, increase speed to medium and mix for 3 minutes. The mixture should be light and fluffy.
- Add in the flour and mix on low until just incorporated. The dough will look a little crumbly but don't overmix.
- Add the pistachios and again, mix on low until just incorporated.
- Divide the dough onto two sheets of parchment or wax paper and form each half into a log, about 12" long. (See notes) Roll up the paper and twist the ends closed.
- Chill for 1–2 hours or until completely firm.
- Preheat oven to 325°F.
- When ready to bake, slice each log into 1/4" pieces and place about 1" apart on cookie sheets lined with parchment or silicone mats.
- Bake for 18–20 minutes or until the edges are just slightly golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.
- Optional: Before slicing roll each log in sparkling sugar.
The first time I baked these, I used pre-shelled pistachios. The second time, I shelled them myself. I thought there was a big difference, both in taste and appearance. The ones I shelled were larger, had a fresher, more pronounced taste and looked more…pistachio-y. (They were greener.) It was a time-consuming pain in the butt to shell them all—and I sent more than a few of them flying, much to the delight of the dog (we didn't let her eat them)—but I think it was worth it.
I also divided the dough in two the first time and ended up with cookies that I thought were a little small in diameter. I got a little more than 3 dozen cookies. The second time, I made one log about 2" in diameter and ended up with about 2 dozen. It's really just a personal preference but I just like larger cookies. There was no difference in the baking time since the cookies were still 1/4" thick.
I have a method of rolling cookie logs that I was struggling to describe so I looked online to see if I could find a video. This one from Martha Stewart is a good 'un. It's a great method and it really does help your cookies stay round.
Even a nut hater needs a nut grinder. Just because.
Recipe source: The Pomegranate Diaries
#CreativeCookieExchange for December: Nuts in Cookies
Nuts in cookies are a tradition celebrated all over the world—and Creative Cookie Exchange has joined the party!
You can also use us as a great resource for cookie recipes. Be sure to check out our Pinterest Board and our monthly posts (you can find all of them here at The Spiced Life). You will be able to find them the first Tuesday after the 15th of each month! Also, if you are looking for inspiration to get in the kitchen and start baking, check out what all of the hosting bloggers have made:
- Honey Mixed Nut Bars from All That's Left Are The Crumbs
- Butterless Walnut Chocolate Chunkers from What Smells So Good?
- Almond Linzer Cookies from Spiceroots
- Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti from Oven Delights
- Pistachio, Rosewater and Cardamom Shortbread Cookies from A Shaggy Dough Story
- Salted Chocolate Pecan Caramel Bars from Karen's Kitchen Stories
- Pistachio Cranberry Rugelach from A Baker's House
- White Chocolate Cranberry Nut Cookies from 2 Cookin Mamas
- Biarritz Sandwich Cookies from The Spiced Life