Pistachio-Cardamom Sugar Cookies Two Ways
This recipe is featured in our 2021 Holiday Cookie Roundup! These pistachio-cardamom sugar cookies became an instant classic when I adapted a basic sugar cookie recipe (by the talented Erin Jean McDowell) on Christmas Eve so that we would have more cookies to leave out for Santa (because our earlier stash of Christmas cookies was already seriously dwindling). I swapped in a generous amount of ground pistachios for some flour, added cardamom, and tinged the dough green with my trusty natural food dye. This "official" recipe takes it one step further- using a cardamom-infused sugar in the dough and sprinkling some more before and after baking. Oh, and did I mention the dough can be baked two ways? If you need to go the easier option, go for the drop cookies. If you love nothing more than getting out your festive cookie cutters and going the cut out route, this dough can do it all. The cardamom sugar also makes a lovely gift when packed up in a pretty jar.
Note: If you'd prefer another shortcut and want to skip the homemade cardamom sugar, you can use 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar mixed with 3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom.
For the Pistachio Cookie Dough
- 1 heaping cup raw shelled pistachios, ground into a powder
- 10 ounces all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups sifted cardamom sugar (recipe below) or granulated sugar
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- Green food coloring, optional
For the Cardamom Sugar
- 1 (.9 ounce) jar whole green cardamom pods
- 1 pound granulated sugar
Make the Dough
Cream butter and 1 cup cardamom sugar or granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping sides of bowl as necessary.
Add egg, vanilla and almond extracts, and green food coloring, if using. Beat on low speed until well combined.
Whisk flour, ground pistachios, cornstarch, and kosher salt in a medium bowl. Add flour mixture to wet ingredients and stir until combined.
To make cut out cookies, turn dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap and press or roll into a 1/2" thick rectangle. Wrap tightly and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. To make drop cookies, use a 1 1/2 tablespoon cookie scoop and place dough on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350F degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
To make cut out cookies, roll dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/4" thick. Punch out dough using a 2 1/2" cookie cutter. Re-roll and repeat with dough until used up. Freeze dough for about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with cardamom sugar or granulated sugar and bake until lightly golden brown around the edges, about 14 minutes. Sprinkle immediately with more cardamom sugar. Let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
To make drop cookies, place 1/2 cup cardamom sugar or granulated sugar into a small bowl. Roll each dough ball to coat in sugar. Arrange dough 1 1/2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets, then bake for 15 minutes, rotating halfway through. Sprinkle immediately with more cardamom sugar. Let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Store cooled cookies in an airtight container.
Make the Cardamom Sugar
Preheat oven to 300F degrees.
Arrange cardamom pods on a baking sheet. Bake until fragrant and toasted, about 10 minutes. Let cool completely.
Crush roasted cardamom pods in a mortar and pestle or food processor, then remove the majority of the fibrous pod shells (it's okay if you don't get it all).
Rub roasted cardamom into sugar in a medium bowl using your fingers to infuse sugar with cardamom oils and fully incorporate.
Transfer cardamom sugar to an airtight container. Sift before using to remove whole cardamom bits and leave flavored sugar behind. Reserve whole cardamom bits and grind to a powder as needed to use in baking recipes calling for ground cardamom.