The dough for these cookies is a lovely pale green color.
I like these cookies just the way they are...but as I mentioned last year, I love pistachio with orange and chocolate, too. So maybe next time I make them I will add a little bit of orange zest to the dough. This time I half-dipped some of the cookies in dark chocolate. They were delicious. And I noticed that the chocolate seemed to make the pistachio flavor even more pronounced.
The basic shortbread recipe from which I developed my pistachio version can be found in Emily Luchetti's Stars Desserts cookbook. I just added some pistachio flour and a little bit of sugar to her recipe. Later I observed that the quantities of the ingredients in my pistachio recipe were almost identical to what they are in my Scottish Shortbread recipe...entirely by coincidence I had simply replaced some of the flour with an equal weight of finely ground pistachios. Luchetti's recipe is for shortbread cutouts, while the Scottish shortbread is too stiff and dry to roll out (the cookies are formed by pressing the dough into a pan or mold). The "hybrid" pistachio dough is quite malleable and rolls out beautifully—even though it has a percentage of dry ingredients that is like the Scottish recipe. I can only assume this is due to the increased amount of fat in the nuts (which make up part of the "dry" ingredients). The pistachio dough also holds its shape well in the oven—scalloped edges are crisp and holes punched from the tines of a fork remain. You could roll and cut these cookies into pretty much any shape that you like.
Since the dough was such a gorgeous green, I decided to cut the first sheet of dough into shamrocks for St. Patrick's Day.
The resulting shamrock shortbread cookies were very cute (if not very green). And as I was taking pictures of them for this post, it occurred to me that the three lobes of the shamrock made a very nice visual tribute for a third anniversary. Maybe I wasn't really supposed to make a cake after all.
1/2 cup (slightly mounded) raw, shelled pistachios (65 g)
1/2 lb. unsalted butter, at a cool room temperature (malleable, but not soft)
1/2 c. plus 1 T. sugar (112 g)
1/4 t. salt
2 1/3 cup all purpose flour (280 g)
Spread the pistachios on a small baking sheet and toast in a 350° oven until fragrant—about 5 minutes. Let cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 300°. Using a rotary nut grater, grind the cooled pistachios to a flour.
Using the paddle attachment of a stand mixer, beat the butter, sugar and salt together just until combined and smooth...it is not necessary (or desirable) to cream until light and fluffy.
Add the flour and pistachio flour and mix on low speed until the dough comes together.
On a lightly floured surface (working with 1/4 to 1/3 of the dough at a time and adding the scraps from each rolling into the next, fresh portion of dough) roll the dough out to a thickness of 1/4-inch and stamp out cookies in whatever shape you desire.
Transfer the cookies to parchment lined baking sheets, spacing them evenly (about 1 to 2 inches apart—they can be pretty close together since they don't spread). Chill the stamped cookies until they are firm. If you like, use the tines of a fork to decoratively prick the cookies. You may also sprinkle some granulated sugar over the cookies before baking.
Bake the cookies in a 300° oven until set. They should not brown...although they may begin to take on a light golden color at the edges. Let the cookies cool briefly on the sheets before transferring to wire racks to cool completely. Store the cookies air-tight.
Depending on the size of your cutters, the recipe will yield about 4 to 5 dozen Pistachio Shortbread Cookies.