I'm amazed at how superior your vanilla is!
- Des, The Grommet
I opened the bottle of your vanilla extract last weekend to bake some cookies and the difference in taste is extraordinary." – Judy

Cardamom Pistachio Shortbread


 What’s not to love about shortbread? Buttery, slightly crunchy, fully satisfying with coffee or tea, in a lunchbox, watching TV, late night treat — in other words, anytime at all!

I created this recipe for Gina, the Countessa –our office manager since 2001 — and we fell in love with it. What’s wonderful about shortbread is that you can add  spices, nuts, chocolate or whatever suits your fancy. The basics are just butter, sugar and flour. While traditional shortbread is cut into small squares or thin rectangles (called fingers), I sampled big rectangles of commercially made shortbread with pieces of chopped milk chocolate in it on a visit to England in 2014.

I made this shortbread in smaller rectangles as homemade shortbread can crumble or break easily. Interestingly enough, I realized recently that the reason my Scottish ancestors kneaded the shortbread dough for twenty minutes as this activated the gluten strands so that it wouldn’t be so crumbly. They then let the shortbread “age” at least a week before serving it. This allowed the gluten strands to “relax.”

I used a 9″ x 13″ pan  which created shortbread about 1/4-inch thick, and I scored it into 8 pieces before baking it to make it easier to remove from the pan. If you want a thicker shortbread, use an 8″ x 8″ pan and score it into four large squares. You could also increase the ingredients to include 1 more stick of butter, 1/4 cup sugar and 1 cup of flour and increase the spices by 1/4, and bake it in the 9″ x 13″ pan if you want more shortbread. 

Shortbread keeps well in an air-tight container, so you can make it ahead and enjoy it a week later.


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Patricia Rain
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Patricia Rain

is an author, educator, culinary historian, and owner of The Vanilla Company (www.vanillaqueen.com), a socially conscious, product-driven information and education site dedicated to the promotion of pure, natural vanilla, and the support of vanilla farmers worldwide. She also does culinary presentations for food professionals, cooking schools, trade shows, food fairs, and private groups, and is a regular radio and TV guest.
Patricia Rain
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