Persian love biscuits
My friend Lucy, like me, just celebrated her second lockdown birthday. Last year, I was all set to go to New York for my late March birthday but that didn’t pan out and we had a terrible Chinese meal delivered after a tense walk in the park. This year, things were a bit better – we went for a walk involving deer and Hampton Court and the Turkish meal we had delivered from a favourite restaurant lived on in delicious leftovers all weekend.
Lucy, meanwhile, celebrated this year’s birthday at home in Dublin with a Persian love cake. I looked up some recipes and thought the combination of flavours would work well as Persian love biscuits. So I combined the basic elements of a shortbread biscuit with the flavours of the cake. The most labour-intensive part of the process is grinding up the pistachio nuts and cardamom seeds in a mortar and pestle, although a spice grinder or simply popping them into a ziplock bag and beating them with a rolling pin or meat tenderising hammer would work just as well.
Other flavours for the biscuits came from lemon juice, almond essence (a big flavour so don’t be tempted to use more than the teaspoon I recommend…), rose water (which is surprisingly easy to find in most supermarkets and plenty of smaller grocery stores) and ginger.
I had a cheesy moment and used my heart-shaped biscuit cutter to keep the romantic theme alive but obviously any shape will do fine. As a final cute touch, I used ridiculous pink shimmer sugar from Asda to decorate the biscuits but any sugar will do the job here.
These biscuits are more-ish, addictive and go really well with a cup of tea.
150g unsalted butter, softened
75g caster sugar
5 cardamom pods
50g pistachios, shelled
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon rose water
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon almond essence
200g plain flour
Sugar to decorate
- Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius.
- Crush the pistachios and cardamom seeds together with a mortar and pestle, a spice grinder or in a ziplock bag with a rolling pin or meat tenderising hammer. They should resemble green breadcrumbs.
- Cream the butter and sugar by hand or with an electric whisk until pale and fluffy.
- Add the pistachios, cardamom seeds, lemon juice, rose water, ginger and almond essence. Mix through by hand with a metal spoon.
- Add the plain flour and corn flour and mix with a metal spoon to form a stiff dough.
- Roll out the dough so it’s about 5mm thick and cut into shapes with a biscuit cutter or a drinking glass.
- Cook for 13-17 minutes. They’re ready when they’re a light golden brown.
- Sprinkle sugar over the biscuits and allow to cool before devouring.