Before You Start
Whilst not essential, it does pay to pick out 30 or so of your greenest pistachios for decoration, and to peel them. Then they will look like lovely emerald green jewels on top of the biscuits. To peel them, cover them with boiling water and leave for about 5 minutes. The skins should then come off quite easily. Take care not to squeeze the nuts too much while you do this as they may split in two.
Makes about 25
- 250g pistachios
- 100g granulated sugar
- 1 rounded teaspoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Grated zest of half a lemon or 1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
- 2 medium egg whites
- About 30 extra pistachios for decoration, preferably with skins removed.
- Icing sugar for shaping and dusting the biscuits
- Two baking sheets lined with baking parchment
Heat the oven to 180C / 350F / Gas Mark 4 (adjust for fan ovens).
In a food processor, grind the pistachios with half the granulated sugar until they are finely chopped. The texture you are aiming for is like a coarse-grained sand. This is not too crucial though: with a coarser texture the biscuits will be moister and grainier; if finer, the biscuits will be more doughy.
In a mixing bowl, mix the egg whites with the honey, vanilla and lemon zest or extract, then stir in the ground pistachios. Mix in the remaining granulated sugar to form a soft dough.
Sift a small pile of icing sugar onto the work surface then take 16g bits of the dough and roll them into balls in the icing sugar. Put them on the lined trays, leaving about 3cm between them.
Once you have made all the balls, dust them generously with more icing sugar then gently press a pistachio into the centre of each one, squashing them down as little as possible.
Bake for 12-15 minutes, checking them half way through, and turning or swapping the trays between shelves if necessary. If you’d like them luscious and moist inside, take them out when they are just lighly coloured. For a less moist centre, leave them till they are golden brown all over. But don’t leave them so long that the centres dry out.
Leave to cool for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
These biscuits look rather good on a plate with Biscotti alle Mandorle Amare, as shown above.
I adapted this recipe from one in Biscotti by Mona Talbott and Mirella Misenti.