Chocolate Shortbread with Crushed Pistachios

chocolate shortbread header 3

I originally indented these cookies as an adult alternative to cloying Halloween candy–a sweet with sophistication, if you will–but considering the hurricane that ripped through New York (among other locales) last night, I think perhaps we should rebrand these cookies.

If you are lucky enough to have power, please consider an afternoon of baking. It’s an activity to occupy adults and children alike, a survival tool to get you through through yet another day cloistered with your nearest and dearest. And as these cookies are made in stages, baking them will carry you through the better part of an afternoon.

In fact, I think I will enlist the Frenchman’s help. He is currently watching local news, reading French news, asking me what changes he can make to the website, and making fun of the blanket I have draped around my shoulders. (Apparently, dear readers, I look like a grandmother.) What this boils down to is that two days home from work gives my French Fry de se sentir comme un lion en cage. 

(As it transpires, Monsieur French Dressing doesn’t appreciate being dubbed a French Fry. But as he is currently playing TV replete with shaky camera-post hurricane footage, listening to an electro pop track, all the while streaming piston noises from his mouth–after promising “not to be distracting”–I will desist pas.)

At the end of the day, I hope you kick up your feet and enjoy these chocolate pistachio morsels. You did something today besides ogling Sandy’s many indiscretions! Congratulations. Won’t you have a cookie?

If you are reading this past posting day, remember that winter will be full of gray days when turning on your oven and beating butter into chocolate will seem like a swell way to pass the time. I hope you will call upon this recipe then too.

As with the walnut sablés, the base of this recipe comes from Dorie Greenspan’s master recipe for sablés.

I got 65 cookies, but I think 55-65 is a safe estimate 


  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup golden sugar (or light brown sugar)
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar (sifted)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons freshly brewed coffee
  • 1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 100 grams (1 bar) good quality dark chocolate, 70% cacao
  • 1/3 cup pistachios


1.  If you have a fancy-pants standing mixer, fantastic: fit it with the paddle attachment. What I have is a hand-held mixer with beater attachments, so that’s what I use. Add the butter to a large bowl and get cracking–blend on medium speed until the butter is smooth as..well, butter (30 seconds-1 minute, depending on how soft your butter was to begin with.)

2. Add all three sugars, as well as the cocoa powder, the salt, and the nutmeg; and then continue mixing until everything looks quite creamy and incorporated, about 1-2 more minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to low, and then add the egg yolks, the coffee, and the vanilla; mix to combine.

chocolate shortbread mix, with egg yolk

3. At this point, turn off the mixer and add the flour to the bowl. Start the mixer again on the very lowest setting, to avoid a flour flurry all over your counter tops. Ms. Greenspan advises mixing the dough just until it looks evenly combined, but not more. (This dough won’t ball like pie dough; it should remain, in her words, “soft and moist”)

4. Scoop half the dough from the bowl and lay it on a clean stretch of plastic wrap. Using the plastic wrap to help you, flatten the dough into a square log. (I lightly tapped down one side with the palm of my hand, and when it was fairly flat, flipped it to the other side. I repeated this over and over, until the square log was 10 inches long, or the length of a piece of computer paper). Repeat this process with the second half of the dough. Toss both logs into the fridge and let them chill for no less than 2 hours. (Conveniently, these logs will remain happily in the fridge for a few days, or in the freezer for a couple of months.)

flattening the chocolate shortbread

5. When the logs are well-chilled, heat the oven to 350F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. (My advice is to keep the baking sheets away from the oven; you want the sheets and the cookies to be as cool as possible before entering the oven.)

6. Portion both logs into cookies, each 1 mm (or 1/3 inch) thick. (Note: I am not an expert cookie slicer. As a result, my sablés osculated in thickness a bit. It’s fine if yours do too.) Lay each cookie on a baking sheet, making sure to leave a little of space between each cookie. (Also, feel free to cut off the end bits of each log, which will probably be a sort of rounded any way. Keep these for a “baker’s tasting”.)

sliced chocolate shortbread

7. Bake the sablés for about 20 minutes. Let the sablés hang out on the baking sheet for a minute or 3, and then move them to a wire rack for cooling. Let the cookies cool before eating; these cookies taste better a few hours later.

chocolate shortbread on baking sheet

8. When the cookies are cool, set a metal bowl over a pot of water. Turn the heat to high, so that the water heats; when you see steam escaping from the pot, break up the chocolate and add it to the bowl. Turn the heat off just before the chocolate has melted completely.

cooling cookies

chocolate, for melting

9. Crush up the pistachios in a mortar and pestle (or a food processor) and set them aside.

crushed pistachios

10. Use a brush to paint about half of each chocolate cookie.

brush melted chocolate on each cookie

11. While the chocolate is still “wet”, sprinkle the pistachio dust on top, so that it sticks to the melted chocolate. Set the cookies on a sheet of parchement paper until chocolates cools and hardens. Enjoy!

chocolate shortbread final 1

chocolate shortbread final 2

chocolate shortbread final 5


  1. Gautier

    Where can you find decent chocolate here in the US??

    • CristinaSciarra

      Mast Brothers is quite good (based out of Brooklyn), as is Green & Black’s. I also like Scharffen Berger for baking.

      • Gautier

        Thanks, I’ll try there

  2. ghis

    Don’t eat them all Frenchman! Bring some to your fellow colleagues.

  3. Cynthia

    These look lovely & are definitely a beautiful alternative for grown ups! Stay safe New York!

  4. Vinh

    Nice pinky nails

  5. Erika

    That egg yolk picture. I am speechless. I am in love. I want to hang a photo of that above my head and look at it when I fall asleep. Your photos are all SO BEAUTIFUL I can’t even handle it.

    (Also, the cookies sound delish!)

    • CristinaSciarra

      Thanks, Erika! You are so sweet! Incidentally, if you want to actually hang that picture above your head, you can get a copy through my Photography page!

  6. tracy kelly

    can you tell me the quanties in grammes and ounces, also what type of flour and waht quantity of butter and is it unsalted butter or salted

    • CristinaSciarra

      Hi Tracy. Look here for a conversion table. (I often just google it.) I use all-purpose flour, and always unsalted butter, especially in baking. The butter quantity is 2 sticks, or 225 grams. Happy baking!

  7. Dsayko

    If I plan to skip the coffee (because I hate coffee), should I use an equivalent amount of water or is it just for flavoring?

    • CristinaSciarra

      You can certainly use water. However, the coffee doesn’t make the cookies taste like coffee–in such a small amount, it actually just helps to intensify the taste of the chocolate!

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