Ethnic-inspired pistachio shortbread
February 10, 2010 § 3 Comments
In these in-between days where England can’t decide whether it wants to have Winter weather or to start to open up the Spring buds, its little wonders like this pistachio shortbread which contain the best of both seasons. Its distinct pistachio flavouring is wonderfully light as a Springtime treat, however the addition of warming nutmeg and ground cardamom provide the much needed warmth that those unpredictable snowy days might require.
Pistachios are used in various sweet and savoury meals throughout the Middle East and South Asia, where it features as an important ingredient of many dishes, such as baklava. Additionally, pistachio nuts have the uncanny ability to ‘fool’ your body into eating less as having to de-shell and then eat the pistachios somehow makes your body feel full without having eaten as much. Fooled by a nut – whatever next?
The shortbread itself is soft and crumbly, but you can clearly taste the pistachio, nutmeg and cardamom with each bite. Not to mention the fact that the smell is divine… To make these you’ll need:
- 350g unsalted butter, softened
- 150g golden caster sugar
- 500g plain flour
- 150g pistachio nuts, de-shelled and processed until fine
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 tsp ground cardamom
Start off by beating the butter and sugar together until pale and creamy. I used golden caster sugar for this shortbread but you can easily use the usual caster sugar if you like.
Once your butter mixture resembles the above, add your flour and processed pistachio nuts (use a food processor to grind them to the consistency of a coarse powder). Usually pistachio nuts are salted and roasted, so you don’t need to add any additional salt to the mixture, but if your nuts haven’t been salted then you might want to add a pinch of salt to the mixture at this point.
Mix well, ensuring that you have an evenly combined batter. Then add the ground cardamom and nutmeg and combine.
At this point it started snowing violently outside.
Pour the shortbread mixture out onto a greased and lined baking sheet and (gently!) press the mix down evenly into the tray. Use the palms of your hands if you don’t want fingertip impressions all over your shortbread. Then use a knife to score rectangles, or triangles if you’re weird like me, into the mixture.
Bake in the oven for approximately 20-25 minutes or so, or until golden. Then cool on a wire rack, turn the shortbread out of the baking tray and break or cut into the pre-marked rectangles/triangles. (Suddenly it was clear and sunny again outside, what on earth’s going on?)
You can eat these with ice cream, crumbled over berries, or even with chocolate mousse. Personally, I like them with a cup of cardamom tea.