Sunday, February 21, 2010

Cardamom - Pistachio Cookies

I think cardamom is my favorite spice.
Lovely, lovely, lovely.

It has a very different flavor and scent, and because it's so pungent not much is necessary to impart its flavor (but, of course, that would depend on how strong you want it...).
I don't quite know how to describe cardamom because it's unlike anything else. Warm, spicy-sweet, and aromatic are words used in my food dictionary to describe it. Yep.

Cardamom is grown in tropical climates, is used in a variety of places for many different things- India (curries, sweets, chai), the Middle East (sweets, coffee), and Scandinavia (baked goods).
As for Scandinavia being thrown into the mix, it had something to do with the Vikings and spice trade a LONG time ago.

The magnificent flavor is in the seeds which are contained in white, black, or green pods. You can buy it ground, but as with any spice (nutmeg, cinnamon, etc.) the essential oils evaporate more quickly from spices that are already ground. The flavor definitely lasts longer in spices that are left fresh, whole and only ground as necessary.

Although we happen to be from none of the aforementioned cultures in my family, Mom has always put cardamom in white bread when she made it. She would get out the mortar and pestle and crush the seeds from one cardamom pod and add it with the dry ingredients. She said my grandfather (father's father) taught her to do this. His background parents were from Prague and Bavaria, so we're not really sure if he had always been taught to do this, or he learned it along the way somewhere.

I found this wonderful recipe somewhere, but I can't remember where I got it- SORRY! I'm pretty sure it was from a blog, and I know it was within the last several months (that's about it though). I've made a couple minor adaptations to the wording and techniques.

Buttery, crumbly cookies are a perfect place for the spicy sweetness of cardamom, and the pistachios add some great color and flavor. These cookies are perfect for tea...

Cardamom Pistachio Cookies
Makes about 5 dozen cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 egg yolks
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cardamom seeds, crushed using a mortar and pestle (or already ground cardamom)
1/4 cup sparkling decorative sugar (
1/4 cup chopped pistachio nuts

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar and beat for one minute. Add the vanilla extract and egg yolks and beat an additional minute.

Sift together the flour and salt. Spoon the flour mixture into the butter mixture and add the cardamom. Beat on low speed, then increase to medium and mix until the batter is combined.

Roll the dough into a log about 2 inches in diameter, wrap in parchment paper or plastic wrap and chill for two hours before slicing into rounds (about 1/4 to 1/3 inch thick) and arranging evenly onto the cookie sheets. In a small bowl, combine the sparkling sugar and the pistachio nuts, then sprinkle some on each cookie.

Bake just until the edges of the cookies start to turn a pale golden color, about 8 to 10 minutes. Let the cookies cool a minute on the baking sheet, then remove carefully to a wire rack. If the cookies cool too long they will stick to the pan and crumble when you try to remove them. The cookies will firm up as they cool. When they are completely cool, store in an airtight container. They may be kept frozen up to two months


  1. WE made these and they were very crisp and "short". Thanks for the recipe. Lovely for tea!

  2. These pictures are so good, I love the pictures
    they are very helpful when making a recipe.