Sunday, March 9, 2008

success: pistachio shortbread

If you life with me--and at least a few of you do--you might have noticed my obsession with pistachios this week. It started mostly out of forgetfulness, as in, I forgot how much I liked pistachios and then I ate some and promptly remembered. Pistachios are delicious, work really well in many desserts (they complement cherries, and chocolate, although the three together are kind of gross).

I had a lot of fun making shortbread last week, and decided to play around with the proportions and the flavors. These cookies are super decadent and tasty, although I wouldn't make them if you're not fond of pistachios, since they're loaded with that flavor. If I ever invest in an ice cream maker, I think an extra rich chocolate ice cream would be amazing with either some of these crumbled into it, or frozen chunks of the (conveniently eggless) dough mixed into it. For a gift, each heart (or square, flower, or star) could be dipped into dark chocolate. The done cookies are nice, pale pistachio green. You could dye them a deeper green, but I'd respect you less.

If I made these again, I would consider toasting the nuts first. Does anyone have any experience with toasting pistachios?

pistachio shortbread

12 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar or confectioner's sugar (I pulsed the regular sugar with the vanilla in my magic bullet)
1/2 vanilla bean, scraped
1/2 cup raw, unsalted pistachios, divided
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/4 cups flour

Preheat the oven to 325. Beat the butter until nice and fluffy. Beat in the sugar and vanilla thoroughly; you definitely want "light and fluffy". Pulse 1/4 cup of the pistachios in a magic bullet, blender or food processor until it's a nice, even, fine consistency, something like bread crumbs. Add the pistachio meal and almond extract to the butter and sugar and beat until uniform. Add the flour, one quarter cup at a time, until the dough almost forms a ball. Chop the last 1/4 cup of pistachios roughly and stir into the dough. Press into a square or similar shape of uniform thickness, I went for less than 1/2 inch. Pierce the dough throughout with a fork to prevent bubbling. Bake for twenty to thirty minutes, or until the edges are lightly golden. Cut with a knife or cookie cutters while the shortbread is still warm. Cool before storing.

For me, this recipe yielded 12 2-inch-ish hearts and a ton of "trimmings".

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