There are some food flavors that stay with us all our lives, and haunt us when we haven’t met them in a while. The flavor of these Crumbly Pistachio-Cardamom Shortbread cookies is, for my hubby Desi, something like that.
Growing up in India, one of the fanciest cookies you could buy was a Nankhatai, a shortbread-textured cookie with an incredibly soft, melt-in-the-mouth texture and hints of cardamom and nuts. I loved these cookies, as did Desi who has a sweet tooth to beat all others.
For days now, he had been asking me to make him a cookie flavored with cardamom and pistachios, but I held back. While I have, in my pre-vegan days, made Nankhatai using ghee, I was not sure how it would turn out with vegan ingredients.
Yesterday, I decided to throw my fear to the winds. Drawing upon my own recipe for No-Butter Almond Shortbread Cookies, which have the same crumbly texture as Nankhatai, I substituted with pistachios instead of almonds and added a teaspoonful of cardamom.
A few small changes of ingredients, and the cookies turned out perfect! The pistachio gives these cookies a lovely, barely-green color and the flavor is to die for.
Desi loved them, but I too couldn’t keep my hand out of the cookie jar!
2 1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp cardamom powder
1/4 cup (4 tbsp) zero-trans-fat vegetable shortening
1/2 cup (8 tbsp) canola oil
2/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp of cornstarch mixed well with 2 tbsp water
1/3 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup pistachio nuts, powdered fine in a food processor or spice grinder, and a few whole ones
In a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, beat the shortening, canola oil and sugar together until light and white and fluffy
Add the cornstarch-water mixture, baking powder, salt, vanilla extract and blend well until mixture is smooth.
Add flour, cardamom powder and pistachio powder and mix.
Roll into small balls, about 1-inch in diameter, and place on a greased cookie sheet, one inch apart. Press down slightly to form discs. Press a pistachio, whole or half, into the center of each cookie.
Bake in a 350-degree oven for about 11-12 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through the baking. Remove when the cookies have a hint of golden-brown color on top.
Place the baking sheet on a rack and let the cookies cool completely before removing them gently with a ladle.