Pistachio-Lavender Shortbread Cookies

Since I’ve moved to Portland, Ken’s Artisan Bakery has become one of my go-to places for lunch, bread, and sweets. They have these amazing hazelnut shortbread cookies that I kept buying, so one day I decided to try my own shortbread, and I am pretty proud with the result. These cookies have a bit less sugar than usual since I prefer my sweets less sweet. Even though they are crumbly (from the old meaning of the word “short”), the pistachios actually make them feel creamier as well, and the lavender gives a fresh fragrance. I’ve made these a few different times now, so I will add some hints as I go on how to get them just right.

Pretend this picture includes a bag of flour, sugar, and cornstarch too.
  • 16 T butter (2 sticks)
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 and 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1 cup shelled roasted pistachios (unsalted is better)
  • 1-2 T lavender flowers, to taste

First, throw 1 cup of pistachios and 1 to 2 tablespoons lavender flowers into a food processor and whirl them around until the pistachios are finely chopped up. In a bowl, combine 3/4 cup sugar and 2 sticks of butter and mix using either a pastry knife or your hands. Then throw in the 1 and 3/4 cups flour, 1 cup cornstarch, and the pistachio mixture.

Nice and chopped.
Nice and chopped.

Mix together until you get a dough ball. I usually just use my hands for this. It might be a little crumbly, but you should still be able to form it into a dough ball (it shouldn’t be a smooth paste). Depending on the creaminess of your butter and/or if you are working at a higher elevation, you may need to add a little bit of extra flour to get the right consistency.

Now tear the dough ball into two evenly sized pieces. Lightly flour a surface and roll the pieces into logs. Wrap with cling wrap, and put in the fridge until it firms up. This should take around 30 to 60 minutes, but you can also leave it in there overnight if you’ve got other stuff to do. On the other hand, if it still seems a little soft after 30 minutes, it’s possible that you actually don’t have enough flour in the mixture. This is ok, the cookies will still taste delicious, they might just be a little extra buttery.

A slightly crumbly dough ball.
A slightly crumbly dough ball.

If you have a cookie cutter that you want to use, you can also throw them in the fridge just as a ball and roll them out after chilling. I think the logs are easier though. When ready, take the logs out of the fridge, and use a knife to cut them into 1/2 inch (1 cm) thick slices. Place the slices on an un-greased baking dish, and bake  at 325 degrees for around 20 minutes, or until the edges start to turn a little golden. If the edges are getting dark or turning brown, it means they are starting to burn, and I would take them out. Don’t panic, they still taste good even if they are a little darker brown.

After taking them out, transfer to a cooking rack (or a plate) and let cool. When taking them off the cookie sheet, they will be a little crumbly, but if they seem to completely come apart and crumble into pieces, this likely means you didn’t cook them for quite long enough. I would throw them back in the oven for another 5-10 minutes, but watch them very carefully for over-browning on the edges.

Thick, crumbly, creamy.

That’s it! The final product should look a little bit like this. Store in a paper bag outside of the fridge for up to a week. I like serving them with tea or ice cream, or just on their own!

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