Recipe: pistachio rose shortbread cookies
This year, our town of Nederland decided to have a giant picnic instead of the annual Fourth of July fireworks. So we decided to get to Crested Butte a week ahead of my wildflower shoot to catch their fireworks. My parents came along to visit us as they’ve never been to the town and they wanted to see our new place. They are terrible at hiding their emotions, so I was rather pleased when they kept exclaiming how much they love the house, how much they love Crested Butte, and how much they are enjoying themselves. Sadly, it looks like the fire bans across Colorado counties caught up to us here too. The usual fireworks at the base of the mountain were canceled. But it’s okay, because the flowers are quite good already.
Wild roses are also peaking in the mountains and several bushes were gracing our yard with an incredible fragrance last week. I happened to be researching a recipe for a rose shortbread when a light bulb went off in my head. Recipes that call for rose petals always instruct you to source organic unsprayed roses. That’s because you don’t really want all of those chemicals in your food. The wild roses in my yard are chemical free and the flavor is more intense than any commercial rose.
my wild roses
My pal, Wendy, told me that roses have cooling properties. That makes them particularly wonderful in summer. However, I also love the floral essence that roses impart to food. Ever since I bought that bottle of rosewater, I’ve been looking for other things to make with it. I found a lovely recipe on Julia Usher’s site. She offers an alternative to rosewater, which is to infuse the sugars and butter with rose petals. I met her halfway and infused the sugars, but still used the rosewater.
a cup of wild roses, granulated sugar, confectioner’s sugar
half cup of rose petals in each bowl of sugar
I let my sugars sit for two days with the rose petals. Julia instructs you to sift the petals and lumps of sugar out, but I left the petals in partly for flavor and partly for novelty. It makes the cookie look a little more like potpourri. I like that.
skinned pistachios, rose confectioner’s sugar, rose sugar, flour, butter, salt, rosewater
process the nuts, flour, and salt together
it should resemble coarse crumbs
You don’t have to use rose-infused sugars. I think it’s perfectly fine to just use the rosewater and the cookies will turn out fine. Aside from infusing the sugars ahead of time (if that’s what you decide to do) the only other step that may take time is skinning the pistachios. I happened to have skinned pistachios on hand from a previous recipe, but it’s a relatively simple process of blanching the nuts in boiling water for 3-4 minutes, draining the nuts, and then slipping the pistachios out of the skins. Simple, but time-consuming.
beat the butter and sugars together
gradually add the pistachio flour
I was short on time when I made these cookies, so instead of placing the disk of dough into the refrigerator for a few hours, I popped it into the freezer for an hour. If you choose the freezer method, be warned that you will have to let it thaw a good 15-20 minutes before you can even think about rolling the dough out. And use flour to dust your work surface and the dough, as it gets pretty sticky as it warms.
wrapping the dough in plastic wrap before chilling it
rolling out the dough to 1/4-inch thickness
Use whatever cookie shape you like. I thought hearts were appropriate here because I was shipping some to a friend and taking the rest to my mom. I’m not big on “pretty”, but I think these cookies are pretty with their flecks of rose petals and pistachio nuts. Set them out on a cookie sheet and sprinkle with sugar if you don’t plan to ice them, then bake to a golden brown.
a little sugar on top
These cookies are quite well-behaved. They don’t spread too much in the oven and I found the dough pretty easy to work with. The combination of pistachio and rose is perfectly suited to a cup of tea, and I didn’t find the inclusion of rose petals distracting at all. In fact, I think it adds a really nice touch to the whole thing.
this cookie has “mom” written all over it
Pistachio Rose Shortbread Cookies
from Julia Usher
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 cup organic, unsprayed rose petals or wild rose petals (optional)
2 cups flour
1/2 cup pistachios (shelled, peeled) or almond slivers
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter, unsalted and softened
1 tsp rosewater
2 tbsps sugar for sanding
If infusing sugars with rose petals: Place 1/2 cup of rose petals with the 1/4 cup of granulated sugar in an airtight container for 1-2 days. Do the same with the confectioner’s sugar.
Combine the flour, pistachios, and salt in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs (don’t turn it into a paste). Place the butter and sugars (rose sugars if using) in a bowl and beat until fluffy (about a minute). Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, mixing until the flour is just incorporated. Flatten the dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours until firm. Preheat the oven to 300°F. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured work surface to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut the dough with a cookie cutter. Re-roll the scraps until the dough is used up. Place the cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet about 1/2 to 3/4 inch apart. Sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar over the cookies. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the cookies are lightly browned. Makes about 30 3-inch heart-shaped cookies.
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