These delicate cookies are fittingly pink for Valentine’s Day or to serve with afternoon teas. Ground pistachio nuts are added to the cookie batter to give a little crunch, along with a bit of rosewater. Raspberry jam spread over the cooled cookies is a hidden surprise when you bite into the cookie covered with a fluffy mound of rosewater flavored meringue.
Rosewater is a sweet, fragrant liquid distilled from rose petals, used as a unique flavoring in desserts, pastries, and confections. Rose water is very concentrated and only a small amount is needed to impart the flavor. These cookies are very lightly flavored with rosewater; however a nice alternative is almond flavoring if you prefer.
Rosewater Meringue Cookies
¼ cups pistachio nuts, preferably salted, shelled, lightly toasted and skins removed
1½ cups all-purpose flour, divided
¼ teaspoon salt
2 large egg yolks
1½ tablespoons warm water
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon pure rosewater (or substitute pure almond extract)
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
About ¼ cup seedless red raspberry jam
Rosewater Italian Meringue:
½ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
4 large egg whites
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
½ teaspoon pure rosewater (or substitute pure almond extract)
1 drop pink food coloring
About 1 tablespoon confectioners’ (powdered) sugar for dusting
- In a food processor or small food grinder, process the pistachios and ½ cup flour until the nuts are finely ground, but not pasty. Add the remaining flour and salt and process just until combined. Set aside.
- In a large bowl of an electric mixer, combine the egg yolks, water, and sugar; using an electric mixer beat on low speed about 1 minute or until blended, and then increase the mixer speed to high and beat for 3 to 5 minutes or until the mixture is very thick and drops in ribbons when the beater is lifted. Lower the speed to low and beat in the rose water until mixed, and then increase the mixer to high and beat another 30 seconds or until it thickens again. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula so the mixture blends evenly. Add the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, and beat until well blended. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture and mix just until thoroughly incorporated.
- Scrape the dough onto a large sheet of plastic wrap. Form into a 6 inch disk and wrap with the plastic. Refrigerate until well chilled and firm enough to roll, at least 2 hours or up to overnight.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Baking sheets may be lined with parchment paper, or lined with a non-stick baking mat.
- On a lightly floured pastry mat or pastry board, and using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough to a 1/4 inch thickness. Cut dough into rounds using a 1½ inch round cookie cutter that has been dipped in flour (to help prevent dough from sticking to the cutter.)
- Place cutout dough 2 inches apart on baking sheets. Bake 11 minutes or until cookies are set and the edges are very lightly browned. Remove cookies from baking sheets with a metal spatula and place on a wire cooling rack to cool. Retain the parchment paper lined pan for the meringue topping step.
- Leaving a ¼ inch border uncovered, spread about ¼ teaspoon of the raspberry jam over each cookie. Place cookies back on the parchment lined baking sheets. Set aside.
Rosewater Italian Meringue:
- In a small heavy saucepan, stir together the sugar and water. Heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves and the syrup is bubbling. Turn down the heat to the lowest setting on a gas stove or remove from the heat on an electric stove to stop the cooking while egg whites are prepared.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and beat until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
- Clip a candy thermometer to the inside of the saucepan with the sugar mixture, raise the heat to medium-high, and continue to cook the sugar mixture, without stirring, until it reaches a temperature of 236 degrees (soft ball stage.) Remove from the heat. Immediately start pouring the hot sugar mixture, in a thin steady stream, into the beaten egg whites, while beating with an electric mixer at high speed. Continue beating until egg whites are cool, about 2 minutes. Add rosewater and food coloring, beat another minute until thoroughly combined. Tip: add a very small amount of food coloring to achieve a pale shade of pink.
- Use a pastry bag with small ¼ inch round decorating tip to pipe the meringue in circles on top of the raspberry filling.
- Bake 6 to 7 minutes or until the meringue is firm and dry but minimally discolored, watching carefully to prevent the meringue from burning. Remove from oven and place baking sheet on a wire cooling rack to cool.
Tip: pipe extra meringue onto parchment paper or nonstick baking mat to bake and serve separately.
- Just before serving, use a fine mesh sieve to dust the top of the cookies with powdered sugar and sprinkle with sugar hearts.
Adapted From: Usher, Julia, Cookie Swap, Gibbs Smith, Utah, 2009
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