Thursday, 18 July 2013

Pistachio & Vanilla Shortbread Cookies

I recently bought myself a new cook book - "Small Plates & Sweet Treats" by Aran Goyoaga, who blogs at cannelle et vanille. It is a truly beautiful book - well written, with delightful and unusual recipes and lovely photography which begs you to open the larder and cook.

I always prefer recipe books which contain lots of photos, firstly because it makes them so much more pleasurable to browse and secondly, because you get a sense of what your finished dish is supposed to turn out like.

This week, I decided to try making Aran's Pistachio & Vanilla Bean Shortbread Cookies. I didn't have any vanilla beans in the cupboard however and couldn't face a trip to the shops, so I substituted with vanilla bean paste which I always keep in the fridge and which contains vanilla seeds, so seemed a good alternative.

Other than that and adding a teeny bit more icing sugar, I have stayed true to the ingredients outlined in the book, although Aran also coats hers in icing sugar after cooking which I didn't want to do.  I cooked mine for an extra 5 minutes as the ones I took out after 10 were too soft, but I guess this depends on your oven, so I would keep a close eye.

Providing you can eat nuts and oats, these cookies are delicious, - melt in the mouth, very light and crisp, with a delightful nutty-oaty texture and a very slightly salty hit. They seem to keep really well in an air-tight container too (if you can make them last that long) and have been good for more than the three days suggested by Aran.

Mostly we have been eating them on their own, but I have discovered that they are a truly perfect accompaniment to the strawberry ice cream that I made last week and posted here. The fruity, slightly tart creaminess of the ice cream is beautifully offset by the crisp, nutty, slightly salty bite of the biscuits. Together, they are an absolutely delicious combination and sprinkled with nuts and fruit, make a perfectly tempting, prepare ahead of time dessert for a meal with friends.

Pistachio & Vanilla Shortbread Cookies (taken from Aran Goyoaga - Small Plates & Sweet Treats (2012))

Ingredients (makes 35-50 cookies depending on size)

140g brown rice flour
80g potato starch (flour)
70g GF oat flour (make as in this post)
30g tapioca flour
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
80g unsalted natural pistachio nuts
225g unsalted butter - room temperature
100g icing sugar (original recipe used 90g)
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (original recipe used 1 vanilla bean)

Method (slightly amended from the original recipe)                                                  

  1. Weigh and mix the flours and salt into a medium sized bowl. 
  2. Measure approximately a tablespoon of the flour mix into a food processor with the pistachio nuts and blend until the pistachios are ground to a fine powder.
  3. Mix the ground pistachios into the flour mix.
  4. In a large bowl and using an electric  
    beater, cream the butter, sugar and vanilla together, until pale and fluffy. 
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the butter-mix and mix until the dough comes together and is well blended. At this stage, the mix will have the texture of a sticky dough.
  6. Turn the dough out onto a large sheet of non-stick baking paper and shape it into a log shape, approximately 13 inches long and 2 inches in diameter (depending on how big you want the biscuits to be and factoring-in spread during cooking). 
  7. Wrap the baking paper around the log and gently roll to make as round as possible.
  8. Refrigerate the dough log for at least an hour.
  9. Preheat the oven to 180⁰ C / 350⁰ F / Gas 4.
  10. Take the dough from the fridge and unwrap. Cut into disks about ¼ inch thick and place them 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with baking paper.
  11. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until lightly golden, but be careful not to over-bake.
  12. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheets, before transfer to wire racks.
  13. Store in an air-tight container.

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