Pistachio Polvorones (Spanish Shortbread)

Makes: About 3 dozen cookies, after you’ve eaten a bit of the dough

I do take some liberties with the concept of these Polvorones, as I do nod to the suspected Levantine origins of these Latin cookies by using a mixture of Pistachio nuts and almond meal / flour, instead of the traditional pecans or walnuts , but if you haven’t any pistachios, I suspect that an equal amount of roasted pecans or walnuts would work in place of the pistachios, or if you prefer- more almond meal in place of the pistachios. These cookies are pretty versatile.

I use a combination of All-Purpose Flour, and Whole Wheat Pastry Flour; I do so because the WWPF enhances the nuttiness of the cookies, but you can easily substitute the amount of WWPF with All-Purpose.

Make sure to use shelled, unsalted dry roasted pistachio nuts. If you can’t find unsalted pistachio nuts, don’t worry- reduce the amount of sea salt to ⅛ teaspoon (or if the pistachios are extremely salty- leave the salt out entirely). Salt is crucial in the flavor of these cookies, but too much salt ruins the cookies, and too little makes each bite set off a “these cookies need something” alarm.


For the cookies:
1 cup / 120g All-Purpose Flour
1 cup / 120g Whole Wheat Pastry Flour (can replace this with All-Purpose Flour)
¼ teaspoon Fine Grain Sea Salt
¼ teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1 cup/ 226g Unsalted Butter, softened
¾ cup / 75 g Powdered Sugar
1 ½ teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract
½ teaspoon Pure Almond Extract
¾ cup / 80g Shelled Dry Roasted Pistachio Nuts; half roughly chopped & half finely ground
¼ cup / 20g Almond meal / almond flour

For Rolling:
1 ½ cups / 150g Powdered Sugar


Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the All-purpose flour, Whole Wheat Pastry Flour, Salt, and Cinnamon.

In the bowl of an electric mixer (you can use a hand mixer and a large bowl, if you prefer) fitted with a paddle attachment. Whip the butter until fluffy, then slowly add the ¾ cup of powdered sugar (I can’t emphasize the word “slowly” enough- the remnants of powdered sugar clouds are not fun to clean up), and whip together on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and almond extracts, and mix until combined.

On low speed, slowly add in the flour mixture until just combined. Briefly mix in the pistachio nuts and almond meal. Leave the cookie dough in the mixing bowl, and cover the bowl well with plastic wrap. Rest the dough in the refrigerator for  ½ hour, or until the dough is firm.

Roll the dough into tablespoon-sized rounds, and coat each dough round well in the powdered sugar (you definitely won’t be using all 1 ½ cups of the sugar in this step, but you’ll need the remaining sugar for later, so make sure not to throw it away at this point). Put each round on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and put in the freezer for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350ºF / Gas Mark 4 / 180ºC, and place a rack in the upper third of the oven.

Arrange the dough rounds 1-inch apart, then bake (being sure to rotate the pan half way through baking) until the cookies are lightly cracked on top and are lightly blushing with gold all around the edges, about 18-22 minutes. Once out of the oven, allow the cookies to sit on the cookie sheet for 10 minutes, then carefully transfer the cookies to a cooling rack to cool completely. Once thoroughly cooled, roll each cookie in the remaining powdered sugar, being sure to shake off any excess powdered sugar.

Storing: The cookies can be stored in an air-tight container in a cool, dry place for about a week (From my experience, each batch will probably be finished after a couple days).