There are fewer more satisfying moments than the hazy, sweet-smelling calm after the flour-fogged storm of baking all day. As I wait for my final round of shortbread to bake, I spot half a bar of Theo chocolate from a recent visit to their factory, languishing on the counter beside the dusty chartreuse crumbs of some leftover pistachios. The uniformly brown wedges of the Scottish shortbread cookie seem to be crying out for some adornment, some happy hour glad rags to celebrate the end of a long day in the kitchen, and so this recipe was born. (Incidentally, there is no “Theo” – the company is named after the bitter alkaloid in cacao called “theobromine” that gives you that sublime chocolate buzz.)
Originally created as a texturally contrasting accompaniment to serve with Chevre Cheesecake with Rhubarb Compote and Candied Pistachios, this pistachio shortbread has a dark, toasty flavor a little reminiscent of peanut butter. Only pleasantly sweet, and a little salty, this crunchy treat is wonderfully enhanced by the addition of some glossy dark chocolate and fresh, crunchy pistachio crumbs.
For the Shortbread
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter, chilled and diced into smallish cubes
1/2 cup unsalted, shelled natural pistachios
1 large egg yolk
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsalted, shelled natural pistachios, chopped roughly
8oz chocolate – semi-sweet, dark or Theo chocolate 70% Cacao Coffee Dark Chocolate
9 1/2 in non-stick, fluted removable bottom tart pan
Preheat oven to 400F. Spread 1/2 cup of the pistachios in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for 4-5 minutes until they are browned but not burned. You must watch these like a hawk to make sure they don’t burn, but are browned enough to create a toasted flavor.As soon as they look ready, remove them from the oven and from the tray onto a chopping board, so they don’t brown any further. Pick out any that are too blackened, and don’t rub the skins off the toasted nuts. Set aside to cool.
Preheat oven to 325F. Place flour, sugar and salt in food processor bowl and blend gently until combined. Add in the butter, pistachios, egg yolk and vanilla.
Blend in long bursts until a ball forms from all the mixture. You want the pistachios ground pretty finely and not poking out of the cookies in large green chunks, so don’t be scared of over mixing.
Remove dough from mixer and press into pan, no greasing/flouring required due to the butter in the dough. Flatten dough out so it has an even depth across the pan using the bottom of a measuring cup that has been lightly floured or covered with plastic wrap to press it down. Using a sharp knife, score the dough into triangles like a pie, going halfway deep through the dough. Poke holes all over the dough with a fork, and then place in preheated oven for 25 mins, or until golden brown. Be careful not to over bake – the shortbread will set up a little as it cools. Note: you can also refrigerate the unbaked dough in the pan for several days before baking.
Cool pan on a wire rack for about 3 minutes then, using a very sharp knife, carefully cut all the way through the score marks you made earlier, then leave the shortbread to cool completely before removing from pan.
Melt chocolate in a double boiler or microwave. Transfer chocolate to a shallow dish and dip one side of each shortbread triangle until thickly covered. Sprinkle with chopped pistachios and leave to set up on wax paper, and serve with coffee or dessert! This shortbread can be stored in an airtight container for about 4 days, if you can resist eating it for that long…