How to Make: Pistachio Shortbread Sandwich Cookies with Honey Brown Butter Cream
Honey and pistachios go together like Cleopatra and Mark Antony…Barack and Michelle…Harry and Meghan Markle. They were meant to be together. Through crunch and caramelization, after endless bouts of sweet and salty rage, an iconic deal was struck between the two mouthwatering phenomena. Pistachios, the floral and earthy nut from the Middle East — would provide the texture. A texture so rich and satisfying that it could only be intensified by toasting, its unmatched flavors blossoming and whelming the palate and fragrance softly perfuming the room. Honey, the deliciously distilled byproduct of countless acres of flowery abundance, would provide the sweetness. Not just sweetness, but sensationally so. Woody and warm, but not like the temperature; berry-like, malty, and oh-so-craveable. Honey is a magic as old as time and I hope it never disappears.
The poetic relationship between these two ingredients inspired me to create this recipe. I thought of baklava, and how its million layers of phyllo dough are the perfect vehicle for the nut and nectar. But, do we really want to make a baklava cookie? The feuilletage-esque process is a beautiful thing, but it also takes a long time and can be quite finicky. This cookie is an experience, no, it’s not baklava, but it’s something we can all appreciate. It’s relatively simple, easy to make and understand, yet yields incredible complexity and depth of flavor.
There’s brown butter in these cookies, which contributes to their overall nuttiness and irresistibility. While I called them shortbread cookies, they’re closer to a sandie, and I actually adapted the recipe for the dough from a Peanut Sandie recipe from Helen Goh and Yotam Ottolenghi’s amazing book, Sweet. I find that in any type of shortbread-like cookie, it is important to use the highest quality butter that you can find (the higher the butterfat percentage, the better). You can also experiment on this recipe by using buckwheat or spelt flour in place of or in combination with the white flour. This recipe can also be successfully made by substituting the pistachios with any of your favorite nuts: hazelnuts, peanuts, macadamias, etc. Enjoy! Please post a picture on Instagram and tag me if you make these. (so we can geek out about how good they are)
TIPS, TRICKS & FAQs
- Where do I find a two inch round cutter? — I use a pastry cutter from a set by Ateco, available here on Amazon. If you don’t have a cutter on hand and don’t feel like buying one, you can use the edge of a glass or small measuring cup.
- What else can I do with the Honey Brown Butter Cream? — I know, its delicious, isn’t it? I’ve put it in a cake, by whipping it with a bit of powdered sugar, as well as filled eclairs with it. It’d be hard to mess something up with this filling, so feel free to experiment!
- Who is Yotam Ottolenghi? — Only one of the most legendary bakers ever. Seriously. If you haven’t been to one of his stores in London (and been mesmerized the incredible meringues), you can simulate the experience by making every recipe from his book, Sweet, which was co-written by equally talented kitchen magician, Helen Goh.
- Can I make these gluten free? — Yes, yes yes! You can substitute buckwheat flour for the AP flour, finely ground, blanched almond meal, or a GF flour blend. They will taste equally as delicious.
- Will someone please tell me what ‘nutty’ means? — In the food world, you often hear flavors described as nutty. From pecorino romano to sesame seeds, the word nutty is fired off almost as often as its more easily understood counterparts, sweet, salty, and tart. That’s right…nutty just means umami. It is a category of tastes, one that can be inexplicably defined by tahini, miso, parmesan, bottarga, browned butter, black, white, and burgundy truffles, and most infamously, monosodium glutamate. All of these tastes provide to the mouth something that is mysterious, well rounded and uber-craveable. Don’t try to understand it, just enjoy it.
Pistachio Shortbread Sandwich Cookies with Honey Brown Butter Cream
By: Scott Smith
“Delightfully exotic bursts of luscious nectar…crunchy nuts and caramelly notes of browned butter..you’ll be making this one over and over again… — S”
Makes: About 10 Cookie Sandwiches (20 Cookies)
Prep Time: 20 Min Bake Time: 10 Min Ready In: 30 Minutes
Ingredients (for the cookies)
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp raw unshelled pistachios (90 g)
- 1 cup plus 2 tbsp all purpose flour (150 g)
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature (125 g)
- 1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp confectioners’ sugar (50 g)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 2 tbsp demerara/turbinado sugar, for sprinkling
- flake salt, for sprinkling
Ingredients (for the honey brown butter cream)
- 1 stick unsalted butter (4 oz)
- 1/2 cup honey (4 oz)
- 4 tbsp heavy cream (2 oz)
- 1/8 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Make the cookies
- Preheat your oven to 375℉ (190℃). Spread out the pistachios on a baking sheet and toast for 8 minutes or until fragrant and lightly browned. Set aside to cool completely.
- In the bowl of a food processor, add 1/3 cup (50 g) of the flour, and all of the toasted pistachios. Process continuously until the nuts are finely chopped.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and confectioner’s sugar on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and honey, scrape the bowl down and set aside.
- Sift the remaining flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium sized bowl, and slowly add it to the butter mixture.
- Add the nut mixture and beat on low, just to combine.
- Invert the dough onto a sheet of parchment paper and knead lightly to combine. Roll the dough into a ball and press it into a disk about 1 inch (2.5cm) thick. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.
- Preheat the oven to 375℉ (190℃) and prep two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon mats.
- Remove the dough from the fridge and roll it out to about 1/4 inch (1 cm) thickness. Using a 2 inch (5 cm) round cutter, stamp out as many rounds of dough as you can, re-rolling the scraps until all of the dough is used up. Place the cut out cookies onto the prepared sheet pans, sprinkle with the demerara sugar and flake salt, and bake for 8–10 minutes, or until crispy and golden brown. Remove the cookies from the oven and allow them to cool on the pan
- When the cookies have cooled completely, use a spoon or piping bag to transfer about 1 tbsp of honey brown butter cream to half of the cookies, gently placing another cookie on top to complete the sandwich.
Make the honey brown butter cream
- Begin heating your butter in a medium saucepan on medium high heat. When the butter is a deep amber color, has bubbles on the edges, and smells fragrantly nutty, remove from the heat and add the honey. Stir until the honey is combined and begin heating the mixture on medium heat until it bubbles.
- Add the heavy cream to the bubbling mixture and stir to combine. When all of the heavy cream has been added, turn the heat to high and stir in the baking soda, salt, and vanilla extract. Remove from the heat, transfer to a bowl, and chill until set (about 2 hours or overnight). You may also chill the mixture over an ice bath if you would like to speed things along.
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