Yields about 20 cookies
2 c. rice flour
1 c. sugar
2/3 c. butter
3 egg yolks
Carafe of cold water
3/4 t. ground cardamom
4-5 drops rose cologne, or 1 drop rose oil
Pistachios for garnish (optional)
Step 1: Cream the sugar and butter until fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks. Blend in the flour and cardamom. Add the rose flavor and enough cold water to make a medium stiff dough.
Step 2: Make 1-inch balls on a cookie sheet and flatten slightly with a greased drinking glass which has been dipped in sugar. (Option: put a pinch of skinned, chopped pistachios in the center for decoration.)
Step 3: Bake at 350 degrees until golden (8 to 12 minutes).
Recipe © Nura Amerson 1991
As a lazy baker, rarely do I make cookies, opting instead for breads and cakes that let me simply dump the batter into a pan, stick it in the oven, and walk away for an hour. But I’d say these fragrant cookies were worth the time!
Rose is a common flavor in Persian cuisine. Americans might find the flavor surprising, associating it more with perfume, but given the growing popularity of lavender-infused desserts, I wouldn’t be surprised if rose became a new flavor trend here within the next decade! For now, though, rose products can be rather hard to find. My husband was able to track down Laxmi-brand rosewater in a supermarket that has a relatively large international section, but if you’re looking for the rose oil or cologne the recipe calls for, you’d probably need to go to a Middle Eastern market. If you are subbing rosewater for rose oil, you’ll need a lot more—several teaspoons at least—to achieve the same intensity of flavor. If, like me, you trust in your gut’s ability to kill off the bacteria in raw batter, you can add a bit of rosewater, try the batter, then add more until you achieve the flavor you want. For me, I performed the gradual addition of rosewater and cold water jointly, adding, pausing, testing, then adding more until I was satisfied with the taste and texture.
Another rose product I didn’t have on hand were dried petals, which some Middle Eastern cooks use to garnish various desserts and dishes. Nevertheless, I wanted to decorate the cookies with something reminiscent of roses, which is how I ended up using sliced dried cranberries as garnish. (Cranberries, native to North America, are definitively not Persian—but they resemble barberries, which are used to add tartness to pilafs.)
There’s no requirement to decorate these cookies, of course. Unadorned, they will still be delicious, an aromatic (and gluten-free!) twist on the beloved butter cookie.