I've been on a huge shortbread cookie kick lately. They're incredibly easy to make and you can flavor them pretty much any way you'd like (and doing so requires minimal effort). Recent variations have included lemon-lavender, earl grey tea, pink peppercorn rose, and spiced chocolate. These, however, are my favorite - they taste like Indian sweets, but without all the ghee and nuts.
OK, who am I kidding, shortbread cookies contain a ton of butter, but butter doesn't taste as rich as ghee. And while there are nuts in these cookies, there's not a lot, and they're not actually in the cookies so much as they're on them (I didn't want to put the nuts in the dough - I was too lazy to have to alter the recipe - so I decided to put them on the edges of the cookies - it might look like it was a lot of work, but in fact it was ridiculously simple, as you'll see below). The combination of pistachios, cardamom, and rosewater is one I've used before, and it works great in these crumbly cookies. The key to these cookies is using freshly ground cardamom - the pre-ground stuff has minimal flavor and lacks the complexity of freshly ground. If you can't find cardamom pods near you, pre-ground will work just fine, just use a little more of it. The cookies won't have the same flavor, but they'll be really good, nonetheless.
Pistachio Cardamom Rose Shortbread Cookies
makes approximately 30 1 1/2" cookies
¼ cup shelled pistachios
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
½ teaspoon rose water
1 cup flour
¼ teaspoon freshly ground cardamom (from about 6 pods)
¼ teaspoon salt
*if using pre-ground cardamom, use a heaping ¼ teaspoon
Heat an oven to 350 F. Line one large or two medium-sized cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
Add the nuts and 1 tablespoon of sugar to a spice grinder or small food processor. Pulse until the nuts are ground (but not too finely - you want some texture). Set aside.
Add the butter and remaining 5 tablespoons of sugar to a large bowl or the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Cream the butter and sugar on medium-low speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add the rosewater and mix to combine.
Sift the flour, cardamom, and salt into the mixing bowl and mix either by hand (if using a handheld mixer) or on lowest speed (if using a stand mixer) until just combined.
Spread a large piece of plastic wrap on the counter. Roll the dough into a log about 1 ½” in diameter. Move the dough to the top end of the plastic wrap, then sprinkle the ground pistachio mixture in a line down the center of the plastic wrap that is the same length as the log of dough. Roll the dough down and into the ground nuts, picking up and turning over the dough as necessary until it is evenly coated. Wrap the dough, place it on a sheet pan, and freeze for 15 minutes.
When the dough is chilled, slice it into rounds between ¼” and ½” thick and transfer the cookies to the prepared baking sheets, leaving at least 1" between each. Bake until just lightly golden around the edges, about 11 minutes.
Let the cookies cool on the sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.