Pistachio Shortbread

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Recently, I've been in a cookie slump.  It started with an attempt to bake some gluten-free cookies that were a crumbly (and odd-tasting) mess.  Next was the homemade Thin Mints during Girl Scout cookie season.  They weren't bad, but they weren't great and they didn't hold a candle to the real thing.  

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But yesterday, I perused the newest issue of Bon Appétit and the recipe for Pistachio Shortbread caught my eye.  I've been looking at pistachio ice cream recipes (does anyone have a favorite?) but they all want you to use pistachio paste and while I know I can make it myself, that extra step is really dissuading me from moving forward.  

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If you, like me, need a pistachio fix, look no further than these cookies.  A few pulses in your food processor, an hour in the refrigerator to chill, and 15 minutes in the oven and you'll have a delicious cookie.  These have a strong pistachio flavor, aren't too sweet, and are quite pretty with the flecks of green pistachio throughout.

Pistachio Shortbread
Bon Appétit May 2013

1 cup unsalted, shelled raw pistachios (about 4 1/2 ounces) (be sure the pistachios are unsalted - I buy mine in the bulk section of Whole Foods or Sprouts or online at nuts.com)
1 1/4 cupsall-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparation

1.  Pulse pistachios in a food processor until finely ground but not a paste, about 30 seconds. Add flour, sugar, butter, salt, and vanilla; pulse until mixture is the consistency of cornmeal. With machine running, drizzle in 2 tablespoons ice water (a crumbly dough should form; do not over-process).  My dough appeared to still be too dry so I added another 1/2 tablespoon and it was fine -- before you add more water, try to get the dough to clump together because it is probably moister than you think.

2.  Transfer dough to a sheet of parchment paper and pat into a rectangle. Top with another sheet of parchment and roll out to a 12x8-inch rectangle (the neater the edges of your rectangle, the less likely you are to end up with funky-shaped edge cookies like I did - see photo above). Transfer dough (in parchment paper) to a baking sheet and chill until firm, about 1 hour.

3.  Place rack in middle of the oven; preheat to 350°. Remove top sheet of parchment paper from dough and discard. Cut dough lengthwise into 8 equal strips, then each strip crosswise into quarters, forming 32 rectangles (I think I probably ended up with about 40 cookies because of my mishapen rectangle). Place rectangles on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing 1-inch apart.  Note that the cookies almost double in size during baking.  I ended up baking the cookies in two batches, two trays at a time because I made smaller cookies and spread them out.

4.  Bake shortbread until golden brown, rotating sheets halfway through, 14-18 minutes (the original recipe said 18-20 minutes, but I checked my first batch at 15 minutes and they were done). Transfer to wire racks; let cool.

Shortbread can be made 5 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

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