If you were to ask me about my favorite flavors of a mithai in cookie form, this is it! The eggless shortbread derives its beautiful color from saffron and the filling uses ground almonds with balmy green cardamom. They are moreish, buttery bites.
I make a point to add some kind of cookies to my diwali menu each year, in last years I have made nankhatai, cumin cookies and kaaju cookies. This is this year's version and it hit all the right spots with us and the kids.
The shortbread dough is super easy to make and needs basic pantry ingredients- sugar, flour, butter etc. While the dough chills and bakes, you can make the filling.One hour is all it needs to make these and the guests are wowed.
You can use store bought good quality, almond meal, if you use almonds ground at home the filling might not be very white, but still as delicious.
A few things to keep in mind while making the shortbread.
- The butter has to be softened. Its a key to making a good shortbread. Leave the butter in a warm place for good amount of time to soften. Dont rush by microwaving it.
- Sift your flour and sugar. It makes a lot of difference in the texture of the shortbread.
- Chilling the dough (helps with texture of dough and flavors get time to mingle) and unbaked cookies.
Recipe (Makes 10-12 sandwiches)
For the shortbread
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- ½ cup confectioners sugar
- 2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
- ½ teaspoon orange zest
- 1 teaspoon saffron
- ½ tablespoon warm milk
For the filling
- ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup + ½ cup powdered sugar, sifted
- 3 tablespoon fine ground almond powder
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
- Grind the saffron with a pinch of sugar using mortar pestle into a fine powder. Add warm milk and let infuse.
- Add the butter and sugar to the bowl of your stand mixer. Cream them for 2 minutes until fluffy. Add the saffron and orange zest and mix well.
- Add the sifted flour to the butter mixture and blend well. Dump onto your work surface and knead well with your hands to mix well and make a soft dough.
- Wrap the dough in the cling film and chill for at least 15 minutes.
- Line two cookies sheets with parchment.
- Unwrap the dough and roll it into a ¼ inch thickness using rolling pin on a lightly floured surface.
- Using a 2 inch biscuit or scalloped cookie cutter, cut the dough. Place the cookies on the parchment about an inch apart. Gather the scraps and repeat until all the dough is used up.
- Chili the cookies for 15-20 mins before baking.
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake the cookies for 13-16 minutes until they are starting to slightly brown on the edges. Dont overbake.
- Pull out the sheets, let cookies cool on the sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.
Making the filling
While the dough and cookies chill, make the filling. Place all the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix for 2-3 minutes until well combined. You can transfer to a piping bag to make it easier to fill the cookies.
Once the cookies are completely cooled, fill one cookie with about a tablespoon of filling and make a sandwich with the second cookie.
Store in an air tight container.