Back to business at hand.
It's been a while since I last posted a cardamom recipe--mea culpa, mea culpa--things got a tad busy last month :)
For our office cookie exchange, I searched for a Swedish cardamom biscuit recipe. I found several, but the one I followed wasn't Scandinavian in root, but Persian.
Last year I bought a copy of Jeffery Alford and Naomi Duguid's Homebaking: The artful mix of flour and tradition around the world. Beautifully photographed--quite honestly, if you weren't a baker or a cook, you could easily use it as a coffeetable book--this hefty tome is a record of baking traditions around the world. I hadn't cooked from it before (for fear that something so beautiful would be cullinarily useless), so I was rather hesitant to try this recipe.
I really shouldn't have been timid --the biscuits turned out beautifully. Light and crisp, and beautifully snowy white, this shortbread alternative was a definite hit (at the office, with friends and at home). These are very delicate cookies--too much of a jostle will cause them to crumble. I wouldn't recommend them for a cookie exchange, but they do dress up a sweet platter quite nicely.
Persian Cardamom Biscuits
Adapted from Jeffery Alford and Naomi Duiguid's Homebaking: the artful mix of flour and tradition around the world
225g very, very soft unsalted butter OR 1 cup melted unsalted butter
110g icing sugar
1 large egg yolk
3/4 tsp ground cardamom seeds OR freshly and finely ground seeds from five or six cardamom pods
275g very soft, rice flour mixed with a pinch of salt
2 Tbsp chopped pistachio nuts
Cream together butter and sugar until it's a very pale primrose yellow. Mix in the yolk and the cardamom. Add the flour mixture about a half-cup at a time, scraping down the bowl after every two additions. If it's too stiff for your mixer, turn it out onto a lightly floured (with rice flour) surface and knead by hand for a few minutes. You're looking for a very soft dough that's similar to a buttercream icing that's speckled with cardamom. Wrap the dough in cling film, and pop it into the fridge for anywhere from two to 12 hours.
Preheat the oven to 350F/190C oven and place two racks in the oven--one just above and the other just below the centre position. Line two baking sheets with greaseproof paper (parchment/waxpaper).
Take the dough out of the fridge and divide it into thirds--wrap two pieces and put them back into the fridge. Divide the dough into 12 pieces. Roll them into balls and place them onto the prepared baking sheets. Flatten them slightly and make sure to leave at least 2.5cm between cookies (they do spread quite a bit). With a thimble or a fork (what I use is a meat mallet) gently press a pattern onto the biscuit tops. Sprinkle and pat on some of the pistachio and dragees.
Bake for 15-18 minutes or until the biscuit bottoms have turned a very light brown. Rotate the racks at about the 8 minute point.
Let the cookies cool on the baking trays for a few minutes before transferring them with a wide spatula to a wire rack for cooling. Like many delicate shortbreads, these will crumble if not given the respect they deserve, so be careful when transferring them to the rack. After they've cooled thoroughly, you can transfer them to an airtight container.
- Use the softest rice flour you can find for this, otherwise you might end up with a "gritty" biccie.