Despite the fact I ate most of a ginormous bag of chocolate chip Portuguese cookies on Friday afternoon, I’m not the biggest fan of sweet food. I’d rather devour a pack of salty crisps than a bar of chocolate. My 10 year old self would be devastated. Maybe that’s why I decided to give these shortbread biscuits a decidedly savoury side. Cardamom and pistachio give these rich buttery shortbread biscuits just the right edge, while lemon lightens the whole mix.
Shortbread mixture is a simple 3:2:1 ratio – that’s the type of maths I can easily get on board with. As long as you have 3 parts dry mixture such as flour, ground nuts or cornflour, 2 parts soft butter and 1 part sugar (I use my trusty vanilla golden caster sugar) then voila, you’ve got all you need for shortbread! Find a spare hour in your busy weekend and you’ve got something wonderful. So to quote Marvin Gaye, let’s get it on.
These biscuits are morish beyond words, and work so well with a glass of white wine. I’ve done some serious taste testing in this area for your benefit, so I can assure you this works. Biscuits and wine is a balanced meal when you’ve had a long day.
These biscuits require such little work. Some serious elbow grease at the beginning is all you need, beating your sugar and butter, then it’s easy sailing from there on in. Add in our flavours of lemon and cardamom, then stir in the pistachios and flour. They are that easy.
We gently roll out our dough till it’s the perfect biscuit hight. Technically we’re talking about 1/4 of an inch, realistically we’re talking however thick you want them. Then we chill, sprinkle over some pistachio sugar and bake till lightly golden. The final step is sit back and enjoy your not-so-hard work.
Ingredients makes 22 biscuits
200 grams unsalted butter (1.8 sticks), room temperature
100 grams golden caster sugar (2/5 cup)
Zest of two large lemons
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
50 grams pistachios, blitzed to a mixture of fine and chunky pieces (2/5 cup)
250 grams plain flour (2 cups)
Pinch of salt
1. Put on ‘Mambo Baby’ by Ruth Brown. Resist the urge to clap along with dough covered hands. It doesn’t end well. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and put to one side.
2. Mix the butter, sugar, lemon zest and ground cardamom together till light and pale. Place 2 teaspoons of the fine pistachio mixture to one side, then stir in the rest of the pistachios to the sugar and butter mix till well incorporated.
3. Add the salt to the flour and add this to the beaten sugar and butter mix. Mix until just incorporated. Try not to overwork the mixture as this will stop your biscuits from crumbling nicely.
4. Lightly flour your work surface and tip the dough out onto it. Gently knead till it forms a ball and roll out to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut the biscuits out using a cutter and place on the parchment paper lined trays. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes to help them firm up and hold their shape when baking.
5. Whilst the biscuits cool pre-heat the oven to 170 C (340 F) and mix two teaspoons of sugar with the reserved pistachios to make a pistachio sugar.
6. Take the biscuits out of the fridge and sprinkle the pistachio sugar over the top. Place in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until the outside are just turning pale golden. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes before moving to a cooling rack. Devour quickly with a hand to catch any stray crumbs.