Perhaps I am alone in this but say you want to try a new recipe…for the sake of argument let’s say it’s sugar cookies. How do you pick which recipe, for possibly the most generic type of cookie, will produce the best outcome? If you don’t have a family heirloom of a recipe, or a source that comes highly recommended, where do you turn? I hit up my go to spots: first, the internet…which is where while sifting through recipes. I discovered the age old question: to use eggs or not to use eggs?
For evidence on either side I resorted to my other go to sources. First, my mother, who though she proves extremely knowledgeable in most advice-giving scenarios also hates baking and refused to be of any quantifiable assistance and told me instead asked me what Martha Stewart would do.
Well, turns out Martha has about 60 sugar cookie recipes and everyone I read calls for eggs and decided to adapt Martha’s eggy recipe with the cardamom from the beloved Ottelenghi shortbread recipe and decorate with pistachios. The question remained, however, what is the difference? and honestly which is better? So I found a lavender cookie recipe without eggs and I tried them both. You can judge for yourself but I think it was pretty universal that the pistachio sugar cookies were just too hard. they were crunchy, and not like the crispness of the lavender (note: no eggs) but just hard to eat. Unfortunately for this round Martha very much let me down.
That is why I am providing you not with the less than satisfactory cookie recipe I used but with the much better Ottelenghi recipe that has never let me down.
Ottelenghi’s Pistachio Cardamom Shortbread
1 stick + 5 1/2 tbsp Unsalted Butter
5 tsp Ground rice
1c. Plain flour
1/2 tsp Salt
7 tsp Icing sugar (but I would probably round up to a 1/4 cup? at least 3 Tbsp)
About 1/2c. Shelled pistachio nuts
1 Free range egg
2 tbsp Vanilla sugar (note: i did make this but then saw it in Whole Foods later. it’s not hard to make, but makes a bit of a mess and were I to do it again I think I’d just add 1tsp vanilla extract for every cup of sugar)
1x Large baking sheet (16 x 14 inches) lined with baking parchment
Pre-heat your oven to 150˚C (300˚F or gas mark 2)
Begin by crushing the cardamom pods using a pestle & mortar, remove the shells & grind the seeds to a fine powder. In a large mixing bowl beat together the cardamom, butter, ground rice, flour & icing sugar until you have a smooth paste. Turn out the paste on to a lightly floured work surface, roll it into two cylinders roughly 4cm in diameter. Wrap each cylinder in cling film & twist the end. Refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour.
Roughly chop the pistachios so you have a good mix of fine & chunky pieces, sprinkle them evenly over a shallow tray. Remove the cylinders for the fridge. Beat the egg in a teacup. Using a pastry brush, paint a stripe on to the first cylinder, then roll this section in the chopped pistachios, paint another stripe & repeat until both cylinders are covered completely. Rewrap in clingfilm & return to fridge for a further 30 mins.
Remove the chilled cylinders from the fridge, with a sharp knife cut 0.5cm thick slices. Place the slice on a baking sheet roughly 2cm apart. Sprinkle over the vanilla sugar. Bake for 25-30 mins until the shortbread is golden. Transfer to a wire baking rack & allow to cool completely before eating. On the off-chance that they don’t all get eaten at once, the shortbread can be stored for up to one week in sealed glass jar.