Saturday, 20 November 2010

Pistachio and Cocoa Nib Shortbread

Back to baking, albeit nothing too rich yet! My daughter brought home a pack of cocoa nibs on her recent visit. What a treat - it's impossible to get anything like that around here - we're so provincial! Mail order is a possibility, but adding on the postage costs of  relatively heavy items often makes it prohibitive.

I thought the characteristics of cocoa nibs would be best showcased in a crisp biscuit, and decided to also add some pistachio nuts, chopped into pieces about the same size as the cocoa nibs. The number of shortbread recipes around only  bewildered me, so I went right back to basics and used Delia Smith's recipe from The Complete Cookery Course, first published in 1978. It has the classic proportions of 1 part sugar, 2 parts butter and 3 parts flour (in Imperial measurements!). The only change I made to the basic recipe was to use a small proportion of cornflour alongside the plain flour, which is supposed to make the biscuits denser and crisper.

110g butter, at room temperature
50g caster sugar
125g plain flour
50g cornflour
25g pistachio nuts, finely chopped
20g cocoa nibs

Preheat oven to 150C. Line a large baking tray with baking paper.
Use a wooden spoon to beat the butter, in a medium sized bowl, until soft and creamy, then beat in the caster sugar.
Sift in the two flours and stir in with the spoon until the mixture is stiff and crumbly - not all the flour will be incorporated at this stage.
Add the nuts and cocoa nibs, then use your hand to gather the dough into a ball and knead together to make a soft smooth paste.
Roll out on a board sprinkled lightly with caster sugar, to 3mm thickness. Cut into circles with a 75mm round cutter and place biscuits on the baking tray. Re-roll the trimmings to cut more biscuits.
Bake for 30 minutes, when the biscuits will be cooked through but barely coloured. Cool on the tray for a couple of minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. The biscuits will become crisp as they cool. Store in an airtight tin.

These biscuits were delicious, with a crisp and delicately crumbly texture. The cocoa nibs, which originated in Peru, were crunchy, bitter and smoky and together with the nuts enhanced the crunchiness of the biscuits. The little flecks of pale green and dark brown looked pretty too. These would be a lovely addition to a traditional afternoon tea!


Unknown said...

they look totally delicious and I love pistachios so i'm sure these will get made in our house soon

Caroline said...

They look lovely Suelle - beautifully neat and appetising.

I've seen cocoa nibs recently in a local wholefood co-operative but didn't buy them as didn't have any ideas for what to do with them. From your comments I take it they're quite bitter with a smoky edge? As an aside, if you want me to buy some to send you I'd be more than happy to!

Suelle said...

Thanks, Dom

C - the cocoa nibs don't taste bitter when raw, surprisingly, but when cooked and in a sweet biscuit dough they seemed relatively bitter. Thanks for the offer - I'll see how many other uses I find for them first. My daughter sprinkles them onto her muesli!

Gillian said...

Nice nib use! I love sneaking nibs into choc chip cookies for extra chocolately hit.

celia said...

I adore cocoa nibs, particularly in plain dark chocolate. Your shortbread sounds delish, Suelle, I've never tried them in cookies before. My one tip - they don't seem to work in bread dough, at least not for me. They end up a bit soggy and chewy. Have fun with them - adding them to muesli is a fantastic idea! :)

Chele said...

They look fantastic. I have some cocoa nibs kicking about that should be used up, will be giving this a try ;0)

Choclette said...

Suelle, such a good idea to add them to shortbread. These biscuits look so pretty and adding pistachios too - really creative. I use the nibs in muesli but have only tried baking them once in cookies - they were very nice, but I like the colour contrast of yours and can imagine they would work really well in shortbread. On my to do list for sure - thanks for the idea.

art is in the kitchen said...

I love shortbread with nuts. Pistachio in my biscuit just does it for me! Wonderful recipe to treasure! Cheers!

Snowy said...

Love the sound of these Suelle. Have some nibs and pistachios in the cupboard.On my list to do this week - thank you.