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Saffron Pistachio Shortbread Cookies

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Saffron Pistachio Shortbread Cookies
24 cookies Easy
Total: Active:
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Ingredients (8)

  • Scant 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1 tablespoon hot water
  • 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup shelled unsalted pistachios, toasted and coarsely chopped

The inspiration for this recipe was the saffron-pistachio Indian ice cream I’ve enjoyed over the years. The saffron flavor in these buttery cookies is forward but not overwhelming.

Tips: Measure the flour by spooning it into the measuring cup and leveling the top with the back of a knife. If you scoop it straight from the container into the cup, you will have too much. Be sure to beat the saffron-water mixture thoroughly into the dough to evenly distribute the flavor.

The formed dough can be stored in the freezer for up to 2 weeks, well wrapped. You can slice and bake only a few cookies at a time and return the remaining dough to the freezer, if you wish. Store baked cookies in an airtight container for up to a week.


  1. 1Crumble saffron threads into a small bowl and pour hot water over them. Let stand for a few minutes.
  2. 2Beat butter with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually beat in sugar until it is fully incorporated and the mixture is fluffy. Beat in egg yolk and salt, then saffron-water mixture, until evenly combined. Add flour and beat on low speed until the flour is fully incorporated and a dough forms. Stir in pistachios by hand with a wooden spoon or a spatula.
  3. 3Lay a 12-inch-long piece of waxed or parchment paper on a work surface. Spoon the dough onto the paper and shape into a log about 6 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide, rolling the paper around it to assist. Press each side against the work surface to square it off. Twist the ends of the paper closed and place the log in the freezer until firm, about 1 hour. (To store the dough for up to 2 weeks, place the log in a freezer bag before freezing.)
  4. 4Preheat oven to 350ºF. Remove the dough from the freezer and let it sit at room temperature until it is sliceable but still firm, 15 minutes to half an hour. Using a thin-bladed, sharp knife, cut the dough in 1/4-inch slices. Bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet until firm to the touch and barely golden at the edges, about 10 minutes. Remove cookies to a cooling rack and cool completely.
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