Continuing on my pistachio kick this winter, I decided to try my hand at some tasty little pistachio shortbread cookies. This recipe has a simple shortbread cookie dough studded with finely chopped pistachios, plus a little lemon juice, lemon zest, amaretto liqueur, and vanilla extract for some citrus and aromatic zing. I love the combination of lemon and pistachio together—there’s something very delicate and almost floral about the two of them combined, and it makes for one helluva cookie when combined with a lot of creamy butter. 😀
I iced these pistachio shortbread cookies with a simple royal icing, and used a few sets of snowflake cookie cutters that you can see here and here to cut out all the shapes. It’s nice having staggered sizes of the same pattern, because then you can variate the size of the border and cut-out center bits if you want to make the cookies hollow like I did. So you get a lot of variation between the shapes of the cookies, and then with the decorative icing options, you end up with cookies where no two are exactly the same, just like with real snowflakes 🙂
I kept some extra chopped pistachio bits and put them on the royal icing on top of the pistachio shortbread cookies as a decorative element, too, and I love how they ended up looking like little gold-green gems on them. And if you’re wondering how and why I’ve been using SO many pistachios the past month, it’s because my family in Greece has a pistachio farm on the island that my dad is from, Aegina. They grow THE most delicious pistachios in the entire world (no exaggeration). They’re imported to all the big European cities because their quality and flavor is something really special—you can tell it’s an Aegina pistachio because the skin on the outside of the nut is flecked with magenta. It’s pretty wild! I have a close-up photo of them all chopped up below so you can see the colors, they’re my absolute favorite. Of course you can use any pistachios for this recipe, though (they don’t have to be Greek).
I’m going to try and share *one* more recipe before Christmas, so stay tuned for that one! And I know, I’ve been sharing a lot on here lately—I’ve just felt especially inspired by the holidays this year. I think part of it is being home for the holidays and feeling really cozy and calm, which then makes me feel much more creatively inspired because I’m not stressed or rushed, and I can take things at my own pace, recipe-test as much as I’d like, etc. This past year has made me realize how much traveling, as much as I loved it and loved exploring new places, stressed the bajezus out of me. I feel more relaxed than I have in a long, long time, and I think being rooted at home for an extended period is a big part of that. Aaaanyhow, I hope you enjoy these cookies, and I’ll talk to you again soon my friend!
Lemon and Pistachio Shortbread Cookies
Pistachio Lemon Shortbread Cookies
- 3 1/3 cups flour
- 1 2/3 cups finely chopped raw pistachios
- 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 12 ounces unsalted butter softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon amaretto liqueur
- 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 4 tablespoons warm water
- 3 tablespoons meringue powder
Pistachio Lemon Shortbread Cookies
- In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, pistachios, salt, cardamom, and cinnamon until combined. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar at medium low speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the lemon juice, amaretto liqueur, lemon zest, and vanilla extract and mix until combined. Reduce the speed to low, and add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in 3 increments, pausing to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as-needed, until a thick dough forms. Divide the dough into two equal portions, pat each into a rough circle shape, cover with beeswrap, foil , or plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove one of the dough portions, unwrap it, and roll it out on a clean + lightly floured working surface until it's 1/4-inch thick. Cut out shapes with your desired cookie cutter and place them on a lipped baking sheet lined with parchment paper, leaving 1-inch of space between the cookies. The cooler the temperature of your room and work surface is, the easier it will be to handle the dough.
Place the pan in the oven and bake until the edge of the cookies *just* get the palest tint of gold, you don't want them to the edges to turn deep gold. The time depends on the size of the cookies, I found that the larger snowflake cookies took about 11 minutes, and the smaller cookies and the ones with very thin edges baked in about 7 to 8 minutes.
Repeat the above process with the remaining dough while the first batch of cookies are baking. When the cookies are done baking, allow them to cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the powdered sugar, warm water, and meringue powder at low speed for 8 minutes. Allow to rest for 15 minutes for any air bubbles to rise out of the icing. Transfer the icing to a piping bag fitted with a small round tip, and begin icing your cookies (the cookies MUST be completely cool before icing).
If you want a thicker royal icing to create 3-dimensional effects, add more powdered sugar to the icing. If you want it thinner, add a little bit more water to the icing.
Depending on the water content of your icing and how dry/humid your environment is, the icing can take anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours to dry after it's been applied to the cookies. Once it's dry, it's safe to stack them (i.e. in a cookie box) for storage without destroying the decorative icing.