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I think I have fallen in love…

With shortbread.

Shortbread 1

It’s such a simple thing. Just butter, sugar, and flour. Maybe a bit of cornstarch and vanilla. How can something with five or fewer ingredients be so awesome!

Oh yea…butter and sugar. That will do it.

But I think the real reason I have fallen in love with shortbread is because of the adaptability of the recipe. Its a blank canvas begging to be painted. And you know me, I can’t leave a recipe alone to save my life.

And so, late one night, while I was avoiding some real work, I baked up these Pistachio-Cardamom Shortbread Cookies with Spiced Icing. I used a basic, stupidly-simple shortbread recipe and added a few of my own additions:  pistachio and cardamom for an “exotic” flavor.

Shortbread 2

It always cracks me up when I see cardamom described as “exotic”. As if everyone and their grandmother hasn’t tried a Chai Latte yet. Anyways. Ending weird diatribe.

These cookies, with only a half cup of powdered sugar, were a bit on the savory side, so I added icing to sweeten it up a bit. I like a nice balance of sweet and savory, so I went with a spiced icing that went well with the pistachio and cardamom.

Actually I have to credit my boyfriend with the icing. He is a genius when it comes to flavor development and he seems to always know just the right spice to add to a dish. So when I asked him what he thought would go well with pistachio and cardamom and, after just a moment’s thought, he told me “Nutmeg and ginger with just a touch of black pepper“.

Absolute genius.

Shortbread 4

I was quite happy with the result. These cookies aren’t quite the traditional Scottish shortbread that are cut and shaped. They are a bit freeform and have a more delicate texture that melts away in your mouth the minute you take a bit.  The addition of warm spices marries well with the balance of the sweet and savory cookie and you can easily adjust the sweetness by using more or less icing.

Enjoy :)

Pistachio-Cardamom Shortbread with Spiced Icing (adapted from Melt-In-Your-Mouth Shortbread)

Makes approximately 24


  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 cup pistachio, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup date crystals (optional) *NOTE*
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line 2 cookie trays with parchment paper.
  2. With an electric mixer, beat butter until fluffy, about 5-7 minutes.
  3. Mix in powdered sugar, cornstarch, flour, and cardamom. Carefully mix until incorporated, then increase speed to high for 3-4 minutes.
  4. Refrigerate dough ~30 minutes.
  5. Drop cookie dough by spoonfuls on to prepared cookie sheet.
  6. Bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes until edges are barely browned.
  7. Let cool on pan for at least 15 minutes (If you handle them before they set up, they will become crumbly and difficult to eat).
  8. Drizzle or spread with spiced icing (Or just dump a bunch on there like I did).

Spiced Icing


  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2-3 Tb milk
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl until smooth.


I used date crystals in my recipe, but found that they added next to nothing to the cookie. They are basically just chopped, dried, date pieces found here. It’s a rather esoteric, entirely superfluous ingredient that I happened to have in my pantry and decided to toss in. If you don’t have date crystals, just omit this ingredient. To be honest, it’s only in my ingredient list because you can see the date flecks in the pictures.