Thursday, October 17, 2013

Saffron Pistachio Shortbread

Shortbread is one of those simple, yet satisfying treats.  It is one of those elemental baked goods, taking flour, butter, and sugar and transforming them through the heat of an oven.  This is a recipe that hints of Spain's past.  It is lightly scented and tinted with a healthy pinch of saffron.  It also includes some toasted pistachios.  Like all good shortbread, it is rich and hard to resist, but takes little effort or time to prepare.  I prepared it in the morning before going to class.

The recipe comes from The New Spanish Table by Anya von Bremzen, a cookbook that is full of a great number of good recipes.  She credits Melissa Clark for creating the recipe.  The original recipe calls for toasting raw, shelled, unsalted pistachios.  I simply used dry roasted unsalted ones that I got at Trader Joe's. 

Saffron Pistachio Shortbread
adapted from The New Spanish Table

3/4 cup shelled, unsalted, dry-roasted pistachios
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar, plus extra for sprinkling on the baked shortbread
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1 cup (8 oz--2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
1 large pinch of saffron, ground in a mortar, steeped in 2 tablespoons of warm water and cooled
1 TBS full-flavored honey

Preheat the oven to 350º F.  Position a rack in the center of the oven.

In a food processor, pulse the flour, sugars, and salt until mixed.  Add in butter, honey, cooled saffron water, and honey, and pulse until the dough just begins to come together.  Place in 9-inch square baking pan.  Press down to fill the pan with an even level of dough.  I find placing a sheet of parchment paper on top and pressing the dough down is the easiest way to quickly fill the pan.  Remove the parchment paper before baking.

Place the pan on the center rack of the preheated oven.  Bake for 35--40 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time.  Place the pan on a wire rack and let cool for at least 20 minutes before attempting to remove the shortbread.  While the shortbread is still warm, cut it into squares by cutting 6 strips lengthwise and 6 strips crosswise.  This will give you 36 1 1/2-inch squares.

Let the shortbread cool completely before dusting with the reserved powdered sugar.

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