Raise your hand if the excuse to bake a ridiculous amount of cookies is your favourite thing about December. It’s mine for sure!
Every year I challenge myself to take on some holiday cookie classics and give them a bit of an interesting twist, and this year is no exception. These gorgeous green thumbprints are inspired by some of my favourite Middle Eastern dessert flavours – pistachio, cardamom, and rose.
You may notice that there’s a slightly unusual start to this cookie recipe, but here’s the deal: you want pistachios inside the cookie dough and on the outside. There’s an extra step that will give you fine pistachio flour for the dough, and perfect pistachio pebbles to roll the cookies in, and this involves sifting the processed pistachios to separate them by size. A little weird, but totally worth it, I promise.
- 1 cup of unsalted and shelled pistachios
- 2 cups of light spelt or unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp. fine-grained sea salt
- 1 tsp. ground cardamom
- 1 cup of butter, softened at room temperature
- 1/2 cup of brown sugar
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup of apricot jam
- a few drops of rose water, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 300°F.
- In a food processor, pulse the pistachios until the largest pieces are about the size of small pebbles, small enough to roll the cookies in. Using a fine-mesh sifter or strainer placed over a bowl, sift out the fine flour, which will leave you with just the pebbles in the strainer. Ideally you’ll have a 50/50 division, about 1/2 a cup of flour and 1/2 a cup of pebbles. If there isn’t enough flour, repeat the processing and sifting steps with the remaining pebbles until you get roughly 1/2 a cup of flour. Add the flour to a medium bowl and set the pebbles aside.
- Add the remaining dry ingredients (flour, salt, and cardamom) to the pistachio flour, whisk to combine, and set aside.
- In a stand mixer using a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks and vanilla extract and mix just to combine. You can also do this in a large bowl with a hand mixer or a wooden spoon, just make sure that the butter is really soft.
- Add in the mixed dry ingredients and slowly mix just until the flour is fully incorporated. The dough should be really soft but easy to handle at this point.
- Divide the dough into 24 small balls, roughly the size of chocolate truffles.
- Roll each ball in the pistachio pebbles, pressing them in to adhere as much of the pistachios as possible.
- Arrange cookie balls on 2 baking sheets and bake for 7 minutes.
- While the cookies are baking, stir the apricot jam with a few drops of rose water in a small bowl. Taste the mixture and add more rosewater if necessary, but go slowly, rosewater is powerful stuff.
- Remove the cookies from the oven, wait a minute for them to cool slightly, then press a dent into the middle of each cookie with your thumb.
- Spoon the jam mixture into the thumbprint of each cookie and bake for 8 - 10 more minutes, until the bases of the cookie are just starting to gain some colour, but no longer.
- Let the cookies cool completely before serving.