07 January 2007

Persian Cardamom Biscuits

Well....I've "upgraded" my blogger accounts. I can't say it was painless--the system didn't accept my Gmail accounts, so I had to come up with a new one...I'm sure it made sense to someone at Google/Blogger/Gmail/Whatever. I've spent part of today and yesterday playing with the new features (Sensual Gourmet: Kitchen Diaries is my testing site for this)--much more user-friendly, but I seem to have lost my banner. I'll need to play with it some more, I think.

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
gold dragees

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.



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Anonymous said...

Technology is such a joy when it works smoothly (which it almost never does).
I also have this book and find it delightful reading. I've only done one thing out of it and that was a bean pie and it worked very well. I must look your cookie/biscuits up in it. They do look really yummy.

Rachel said...

They look great!

Anonymous said...

These look delicious! I had a Iranian coworker that made cookies very similar to these but I don't think she used rice flour. Bonus for the wheat intolerant! :) Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Thanx for posting this recipe. As a Baha'i and belonging to a healthy sized Bahai community, we love to create,try and eat Persian dishes. I cannot wait to try this recipe.

Linda @ Brazilian Food Love said...

I love caradamon!! So of course this blog is immediatly a favorite and goes on to my linklist!:)

jasmine said...

Hello all

I wasn't avoiding you, Blogger just wouldn't let me reply!

Hi Tanna! -- it seems as if it's been ages since we last chatted--nice to know that the book has another good recipe--perhaps I'll cook from it more often.

Rachel -- Thanks! They were yummy.

HN -- Welcome! Yes, I have a colleague who's sone is gluten intolerant and he really appreciated them.

Ajen -- I'm curious as to what you think of them...

Paz -- Dragees are those gold or silver balls people use to decorate cakes and cookies...

Linda -- Welcome! Thanks--glad you like the site.


Elizabeth said...

I KNOW I commented on this the other day but I must not have remembered to press send!

These cookies look great - I'm particularly interested in them because of the rice flour. My dad is allergic to wheat gluten so we're always on the lookout for tried and true wheat-free recipes.


P.S. I haven't use dragees in years. They don't actually offer any flavour, do they?

jasmine said...

Hi Elizabeth

It sounds as if a few people are having problems with the new blogger. Why did they have to change it?

It is a very good, but very delicate recipe. Dragees taste sweet as they are made of sugar...I added them because they look pretty and Christmassy...


Elizabeth said...

I'm not surprised that the recipe is delicate. It's that rice flour! Thanks for the warning. I'll bear it in mind if I make the Persian biscuits with the idea of sending them in the mail to my dad....

I know what you mean about dragees looking pretty. I'm always a little nervous that someone might break their teeth on them though.


P.S. It's not beyond the realm of possibility that I made a mistake and mistyped my username. Or perhaps I didn't notice that the word verification appears to need filling in twice. As well as the password!! (actually thrice for the password!)

Deeba PAB said...

Hi Jasmine...bookmarked! What more can I say? The DH loves cardamom; so does the son. The cookies are so pretty I cant let them pass...the flavours are coming right through!

tasteofbeirut said...

How interesting! I tried baking with rice flour once . In Lebanese cuisine, rice flour is used mainly with puddings. I love cardamom so I think I will try these!

Angel of the North said...

Greetings from the Scottish Borders! I can see England from the kitchen window, though. I love recipes from the countries of the middle east and got some Iranian spices on a trip to the big city the other week. I was looking for Iranian ideas when I happened on your lovely web site.

Elizabeth said...

I cannot believe that it took me this long to actually make these cookies that I've had bookmarked pretty much since you posted about them. Wow. They're brilliant!

I couldn't get white rice flour at our health food store, so used brown rice flour. And they were still brilliant. Many thanks again for posting about them.