Sugar cookies on their own can be wonderful, but I have often found myself searching for a cookie recipe that allows for some more nuanced flavor combinations than the typical sugar cookie provides. It turns out the addition of ground nuts to the batter opens up a world of possibilities (and a more interesting texture too)!
In the recipe below, I use ground pistachios, cinnamon, and cardamom to flavor the cookie and pair them with a royal icing that’s flavored rose. However, this recipe is incredibly versatile: ground pecans or walnuts can be substituted for the pistachios, the spices are up for grabs too, and the milk in the recipe can be replaced with another liquid in a pinch (black coffee and walnuts or bourbon and pecans, for just a few ideas).
Regarding the royal icing, rose is a strong flavor that stands up beautifully to the high sugar content of the icing.
Nuts About Sugar Cookies
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup ground pistachios
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp cardamom
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 large egg
- 2 tbsp milk (or other liquid)
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, ground pistachios, baking powder, cinnamon, and cardamom.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar. Add in the egg and milk. Gradually add in the flour mixture to create a smooth dough. Divide the dough in half, shape into disks, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. This dough can be made ahead and chilled overnight.
Preheat oven to 350 degree and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll out one of portion of the dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut using cookie cutters in whatever shape you desire. For cookies that are roughly 3-inches in diameter, bake for 10-12 minutes on the prepared baking sheet. Smaller cookies will bake for less time.
You should get about 2 dozen cookies from one batch. The dough warps only slightly, but if you’re a perfectionist, cutting them again right as they come out of the oven works like a charm to produce clean lines. Let them cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Let them cool completely before icing.
Rose Royal Icing
- 3 tbsp meringue powder (4oz)
- 4 cups confectioner’s sugar (16 oz)
- 5 tbsp warm water
- 1/4 tsp rose water*
Combine all ingredients, whipping to form peaks, about 7 minutes. The frosting at this stage will be quite thick. From this stage, you have a couple options for piping: a top coat or a filled border.**
I had written a bit about icing techniques, but I’m obviously still quite a neophyte to royal icing decorating. In the picture below, I attempted a feathering technique as well as a marbling technique.
*Rose water by it’s nature can be a bit overpowering. Only 1/4 of a tsp for an entire batch for frosting might seem judicious, but trust me: it’s all you need.
**At this point, I would highly recommend watching a video on how to properly flood cookies with royal icing: