Sunday, November 13, 2011

Project Shortbread (Part II)

You know the saying "Stop looking for love; let love find you"? No? Well, in my teenage years when I was desperate for a date (its a long story, this isn't the place for it), I got that advice quite a bit. I thought it was just hogwash at the time but now I am not so sure.

I stopped looking and I found love.

No, this isn't a soppy account of how I met my husband. It's a soppy account of how I finally found the perfect shortbread.

You see, about two weeks ago, I went on a frenzied quest to find the perfect recipe for the perfect shortbread. I searched for and tried a dozen (well, not quite but close) different recipes. I don't think I found the perfect recipe for the perfect shortbread but I twas pretty happy with the results of Project Shortbread.

Then, when I wasn't looking, I found this recipe for Polvorones (Spanish shortbread). Or rather, it found me. I was doing my regular food blog rounds when I came across a recipe for Pistachio Polvorones on It was love at first sight. The perfect little round sugar-coated cookies were so beautiful, so perfect. Actually, they reminded me of an Indian dessert I love — ghee balls —and I think that's what attracted me first.

I had to make these. I had no choice. It was fate.

Made of sugar, flour, butter and nuts, Polvorones are traditionally made around Christmas time. They're sometimes called "Wedding Cookies" (maybe its the dusting of powdered sugar that gives it a "wedding feel" — you know, white wedding and all that?) and can be found, individually wrapped kinda like a sweet — quite commonly in Spain, Mexico, the Philippines and America (well not exclusively in these places but especially so).

Now, let me tell you why I love these cookies. They are deliciously nutty ground almond and chopped pistachios — imagine that; they're fantastically soft and delightfully crumbly. The icing sugar on top adds to the allure of the cookie that, on its own, isn't terribly sweet.

It is my favourite shortbread... of the moment.

Pistachio Polvorones
(adapted from

11/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
226g butter, softened
3/4 cup icing sugar (and more for dusting)
11/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract (optional)
3/4 cup chopped pistachios
1/4 cup ground almond

Whisk together the flours, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
Using a mixer, cream the butter until fluffy. Add the sugar in gradually and continue mixing until the mixture becomes light and fluffy (about 3 mins). Add the vanilla and almond extracts.
With a spatula, fold in the flour. Add the ground almonds and pistachios and mix till a dough forms. Don't over mix the dough. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 mins or till the dough (which is very soft at this point) firms up a little.

Once firm, remove the dough from the refrigerator and form little balls (between the size of a 10sen and 20sen coin) and place them an inch apart on a line baking sheet.

Place the tray of dough balls in the freezer for 15 mins.

Preheat the oven to 180C. Bake the cookies for about 15-18 mins or until the sides begin to get golden. Remove and let cool on the tray for 10-15 mins.

Coat with powdered sugar. Eat. Wow.

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