These cookies are my adaptation of a biscuit (as cookies are called in England) that my dear mother used to make for us as kids in Mumbai. I’ve given my mother’s biscuit recipe a holiday twist, using the bright flavors, colors and textures of strawberries and pistachios.
Amid political unrest, my grandparents, along with their kids, migrated from Kampala, Uganda, to Mumbai on a ship in 1968. (A few years later, Ugandan President Idi Amin would order the expulsion of the country’s entire Asian population.) They had to take all their belongings with them, and they brought their little white oven, too. After my mum married my dad, the oven went to their new house, and it was in it that she made all our birthday cakes, dozens and dozens of cookies, souffles and many other delicious bakes. That vintage white oven served my mum well: She used it until the early 2000s.
The biscuits became popular among our family and friends. My mother made them in different flavors using the same base recipe, varying them with cashews, cardamom, chocolate and pistachios. She even had bake sales featuring these biscuits, and they would always sell out!
I changed the recipe slightly to make a versatile dough infused with ground cardamom, incorporating strawberry and pistachio into separate batches. I combine the two doughs, roll them up into a log, slice and bake them. The cookie logs can be frozen and gifted with baking instructions as a fun holiday treat, or you can bake them and present them in a pretty tin. They are so pleasing to the eye — and the taste buds.
My absolute favorite way to eat these cookies is with masala chai.
Strawberry Pistachio Slice-and-Bake Cookies
If you want extra pizazz, you can use other colors of sparkling sugar, such as pink or green, to coat the dough.
Make Ahead: The dough logs must be refrigerated for at least 4 hours and up to 1 week before baking. Freeze for up to 1 month and defrost overnight in the refrigerator before slicing and baking.
Storage: Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week, or freeze for up to 2 months.
Where to Buy: Freeze-dried strawberry powder is available online. Freeze-dried strawberry pieces are available at grocery stores and online. Strawberry and pistachio extracts are available online and at baking supply stores.
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For the base dough
- About 2 1/2 cups (300 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon fine salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 16 tablespoons (2 sticks/226 grams) unsalted butter, softened
- 3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup (60 milliliters) whole milk, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the strawberry dough
- 1/4 cup (20 grams) freeze-dried strawberry powder (may substitute with 1 cup freeze-dried strawberries, ground in a spice grinder or food processor)
- 1/2 teaspoon strawberry extract
- 3 to 4 drops pink gel food coloring, preferably AmeriColor brand’s Electric Pink
- 1/2 cup (10 grams) coarsely chopped freeze-dried strawberries
For the pistachio dough
- 1/4 cup (35 grams) raw pistachios, ground to a fine powder in a spice grinder or food processor
- 1/2 teaspoon pistachio extract
- 3 to 4 drops green gel food coloring, preferably AmeriColor brand’s Electric Green
- 3 tablespoons (30 grams) coarsely chopped raw pistachios
- 6 ounces (170 grams) sparkling sugar
Make the base dough: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cardamom, baking soda, salt and baking powder until combined.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using a large bowl and a hand mixer, beat the butter and granulated sugar on low speed. Gradually increase the speed to high and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the milk and vanilla, and mix on low to combine.
With the mixer on low, slowly add the flour mixture. Gradually increase the speed to medium and beat until the mixture is well combined, 30 seconds to 1 minute. The dough should weigh about 740 grams. Divide the dough into two equal portions, about 370 grams each. Leave one portion in the mixer and set the other portion aside.
Make the strawberry dough: To the dough in the mixer, add the freeze-dried strawberry powder, strawberry extract and pink food coloring and mix on low speed until the color is consistent. Add the freeze-dried strawberries and mix on low until evenly distributed. Transfer the dough to a separate bowl and cover. Wipe the bowl clean to prepare it for the pistachio dough.
Make the pistachio dough: Return the other half of the base dough to the mixer bowl. Add the ground pistachios, pistachio extract and green food coloring, and mix on low until the color is consistent throughout the dough. Add the coarsely chopped pistachios and mix on low until evenly distributed. Transfer the dough to a separate bowl and cover.
Assemble the dough: Spread the sparkling sugar in a large, rimmed baking sheet. Have ready two pieces of parchment paper or plastic wrap that will be large enough to roll and seal 12-inch logs of dough.
Take half of the pistachio dough and, on a clean work surface, roll it into a log that is about 10 inches (25 centimeters) long and 1 inch wide. Repeat with half of the strawberry dough. If the dough is too soft to work with at this (or any) point, refrigerate it for 10 to 15 minutes to firm up.
Place the two logs side by side. Squeeze the logs together gently to bind them. Working on a clean sheet of parchment, if desired, roll the dough log back and forth to make it longer and thinner. Keep rolling until the log is approximately 12 inches (30 centimeters) long.
Repeat the rolling and shaping with the remaining strawberry and pistachio doughs to make a second 12-inch (30-centimeter) log.
Gently transfer each log to the baking sheet with the sparkling sugar and roll each in the pan, making sure the sugar adheres to the dough and the logs are thoroughly and entirely coated. (You can mix different colors together, or roll each log in different colors.)
Transfer each log to one of the pieces of parchment or plastic wrap and tightly wrap. If desired, place the logs in cardboard paper towel rolls so that they hold their shape. Otherwise, transfer the wrapped dough to the refrigerator for 15 minutes, then roll them again, repeating until you have a smooth cylindrical shape. It may take 2 to 3 tries to achieve logs that are firm and keep their shape.
Refrigerate the logs for at least 4 hours and up to 1 week.
Bake the cookies: Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Line two large, rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
Remove one dough log from the refrigerator. Using a sharp knife, cut the roll into 1/3-inch-thick (just under 1 centimeter) rounds. You should get about 36 cookies from the roll. Divide them equally between the baking sheets. Return one sheet to the fridge so the dough holds its shape.
Bake the first sheet for about 12 minutes, or until the edges slightly brown, rotating the pan from front to back halfway through. Don’t let the tops get too dark or you’ll lose the pink and green tints. Using a thin spatula, transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
Repeat with the other sheet of sliced cookies.
You can repeat the slice-and-bake method for the other roll of dough, or keep it refrigerated for up to 1 week. If baking the other roll, let the baking sheets cool completely before proceeding.
Calories: 64; Total Fat: 3 g; Saturated Fat: 2 g; Cholesterol: 7 mg; Sodium: 40 mg; Carbohydrates: 8 g; Dietary Fiber: 0 g; Sugar: 5 g; Protein: 1 g
This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.
From food writer Amisha Gurbani, author of “Mumbai Modern” (Countryman Press, 2021).
Tested by Becky Krystal; email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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