It's Not Easy Being Green: Pistachio Shortbread

In the spirit of St. Patrick's Day, I decided to make a recipe that I have consciously avoided in the past: King Arthur Flour's green Pistachio Shortbread. The reason I have passed on the recipe previously is that it calls for a box of Jell-O pistachio pudding mix. Generally, I'm don't make recipes that require prepared ingredients. But I can't deny that I was a huge fan of Jell-O pudding as a kid, especially the pistachio flavor; I loved the minty green color and the small bits of crunchy pistachios.

The shortbread recipe has received rave reviews on the King Arthur Flour website and I didn't have any other green recipe ideas immediately at hand, so I thought I might as well give it a try.

You can make the shortbread dough in a few minutes. You simply mix together butter, pistachio pudding mix, sugar, and salt, and then beat in flour until the mixture comes together. The recipe lists pistachio flavor as an optional ingredient and I didn't have any, so I used a half teaspoon of almond extract instead. (The flavor of almonds is quite similar to pistachios, and in fact, as I read the Jell-O pudding box closely, I noticed that almonds are the third listed ingredient.)

The recipe is written to be made in two 8-inch or 9-inch diameter round pans. I calculated that a single 13-inch by 9-inch rectangular was roughly equivalent, so that's what I used. I pressed the dough into the pan, docked it, and then pressed in chopped toasted salted pistachios. The recipe instructs you to bake the shortbread for 35-40 minutes, or until deep golden brown around the edges. My edges took a long time to brown and I ended up baking the shortbread for 50 minutes.

After I took the pan out of the oven, I immediately pulled out the shortbread (I had lined the pan with parchment, so this was easy) and transferred it to a cutting board. The shortbread was quite soft, and it flexed easily without cracking or breaking. I cut it into 3-inch by 1-inch strips and put them on a wire rack to cool. The color of the baked cookies was green, but considerably more subdued than the bright pastel green color of the raw dough. Also, since the tops of the cookies were completely covered with chopped pistachios, it was difficult to see the green color at all.

The cooled cookies were quite crisp, and nice and buttery. It's probably been about 30 years since I actually tasted Jell-O pistachio pudding, but from what I recall, these cookies taste almost exactly like the pudding -- except with a nice salty crunch from the pistachios on top. The flavor was quite sweet and slightly artificial -- but like I said, they tasted just like the (artificially flavored) pudding. In the future, I would probably use raw pistachios instead of toasted ones, because the pistachios on top got quite dark during baking. But I loved the salty-sweet flavor of the cookie due to the salted nuts.

I'm not sure if this recipe merits a five-star rating, but it's easy and tasty and I would make it again. If you like Jell-O pistachio pudding, you'll love these.

Recipe: "Pistachio Shortbread" from King Arthur Flour.


Louise said…
I've never had Jello Pistachio Pudding, so I don't know the taste, but I think if you make these again you should add a touch of green dye gel to pop the color. :-)