These pistachio biscuits are an easy yet impressive bake. Dipped in dark chocolate and sprinkled with sea salt flakes these pistachio shortbread cookies are fun to make, sensational to taste and incredibly hard to resist.
This recipe was first published in November 2015 and updated in September 2022 with ingredient notes, step-by-step instructions, a tips sections plus new images.
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When I first published the recipe for these pistachio biscuits I described them as regretfully good. What I meant by that was they really are hard not to fall in love with and they are a little on the addictive side.
First off, there’s a double hit of sweet, bright, cheerful pistachio nuts as both ground and chopped pistachios are incorporated into the biscuit dough. You could stop right there and enjoy these crisp pistachio shortbread cookies… naked. They are impressively good.
But you would be missing a trick. Once dipped into dark chocolate and sprinkled with a touch of sea salt, these pistachio biscuits become something much more classy altogether.
Adding these two extra ingredients turns them into the best dark chocolate sea salt cookies imaginable. Just try them and you’ll understand where I’m coming from.
When I first thought about making these dark chocolate sea salt cookies I really wasn’t sure if I would like the sea salt or if I would find it too much. If you’re reading this and wondering the same thing, then I’m going to insist you give them a try. But if I really can’t convince you, just omit the sea salt, you’ll still be a very happy baker.
Why you’ll love these Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Cookies
- Baking these pistachio biscuits is straightforward.
- And it’s fun as you get to whizz up the pistachio nuts and stare goggle-eyed at the beautiful shade of green you’re about to put into your biscuits.
- It’s little surprise that the biscuit dough created embraces the green hue of the pistachio nuts, but once baked the green hue vanishes from these sea salt cookies. It’s like a little bit of magic taking place in your oven.
- The dough can be prepared in about 5 minutes.
- And it can be stored in the fridge for a few days before being baked.
- You don’t have to be too precise about dipping these pistachio shortbread cookies neatly in the chocolate since a rustic (aka messy) look works well for them. That’s probably just as well given my decorating skills (ahem).
- The recipe makes plenty – around 20 biscuits.
Pistachio nuts: always use unsalted nuts for this recipe. Your life will be simpler if you pick nuts that have already had their shells removed. These are usually stocked in supermarkets but they can also be bought online.
Butter: proper butter rather than baking margarine is by far the best choice for these pistachio biscuits. It’s so full of flavour and, accordingly, produces the best-tasting biscuit. Go with unsalted and let it come to room temperature before baking begins as it will be easier to cream with the sugar.
Sugar: a blend of white caster sugar and light brown sugar produces a delicate sweetness to this bake. The inclusion of a little brown sugar amplifies the nutty nature of these biscuits without detracting from the overall flavour.
Dark chocolate: use the best quality dark chocolate you can afford. One with around 60%-70% cocoa solids is ideal as it’s not too sweet and not too bitter. It’s the perfect middle ground between the sweetness of the pistachio biscuits and the twang of the sea salt.
Sea salt: this should be the flake variety rather than the harder crystals intended for use in salt mills. Maldon and the Cornish Salt Company are both easy to pick up in UK supermarkets. Whatever you do, do not use the grain salt intended to be poured from a salt pot (or table salt).
It is extremely rare to come across ground pistachio nuts (also known as pistachio powder, pistachio flour and pistachio meal) in the supermarket. If you do come across it, then the price might well make you wince.
Fortunately, if you own either a mini food processor or an electric coffee bean grinder, it is easy to make your own from whole pistachio nuts.
Just pop the required amount (in this recipe that’s 50g) into your processor and pulse briefly several times until the nuts have been reduced to a fine powder (rather like ground almonds).
Don’t overload the bowl of your grinder – split the nuts into several smaller batches for ease of grinding. And take care not to process the nuts for too long as they will get clumpy due to the oil in the nuts being released.
- Put 50g of the pistachio nuts in a mini food processor or coffee grinder and pulse briefly until reduced to a powder.
- Chop the rest of the nuts roughly using a knife.
- In a medium bowl, using electric beaters, cream the butter with the sugars until fluffy.
- Add the cooking salt, flour, and the ground & chopped pistachios. Briefly stir with a metal spoon.
- Use your hands to complete the mixing. Stop mixing as soon as everything is combined properly.
- Shape the dough into a cylinder (sausage) approximately 20cm long and 4-5cm wide. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for at least 4 hours to firm up.
- Pre-heat the oven to 140°C/ 275°F/ GM1 and line 2 baking sheets with baking parchment.
- Unwrap the dough, slice the ends off to neaten and then slice into 20 rounds each approximately 5mm thick.
- Lay the circles on the baking sheets, spaced 2cm apart.
- Bake for around 20 minutes until beginning to turn golden.
- Remove from the oven and let rest for 2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Chop the chocolate finely and put ⅔ of it into a small heatproof bowl and melt in the microwave (heat in 30-second bursts on full power, stirring occasionally). Once the chocolate has almost melted add the remaining ⅓ chocolate and stir until it is all completely melted.
- Take a biscuit and dip the bottom ⅓ in the chocolate, tilting the biscuit as necessary to ensure a good covering of chocolate. Place on greaseproof paper. Repeat with another 2 biscuits, then top all three biscuits with a small pinch of sea salt flakes.
Note: don’t wait until you have dipped all 20 biscuits to sprinkle the salt as the chocolate will have set too hard on some of them for the salt to stick.
- Keep repeating this dipping and sprinkling process with sets of 3 biscuits until all of the biscuits have been decorated.
- Allow them to set completely then transfer the pistachio biscuits to an airtight container.
I have a handful of tips to help you get the best out of this recipe for pistachio shortbread cookies:
- Use digital scales and the gram system of measurement when baking. It’s the most accurate method of weighing out ingredients.
- Chilling the dough is essential. Please don’t skip this part.
- Use a sharp, non-serrated knife to cut the cookies.
- Rotate the baking sheets halfway through the cooking time to ensure a more even bake.
- And, if your baking sheets are on different shelves of the oven it’s also a good idea to swap them over. Again, this helps ensure the entire batch of biscuits bakes more evenly.
Frequently asked questions
Yes, you can. Try almonds or hazelnuts. Both of these break down well to create a nut ‘flour’.
I don’t recommend this. Using salted nuts to make the dough will likely make the pistachio shortbread cookies far too salty to be enjoyable.
Add in a little bit more flour (a tablespoon at a time) to help firm it up but don’t forget that it will firm up in the fridge too.
Yes, and it’s very easy to do so as the recipe for these pistachio shortbread cookies is eggless. Simply swap the dairy butter for block vegan butter and add ¼ teaspoon salt to the flour to help bolster the flavour of your vegan pistachio shortbread cookies. And don’t forget to ensure that your chocolate is also vegan.
There are a few other ways you could take this recipe for dark chocolate sea salt cookies:
- Add a touch of finely grated citrus zest to the biscuit dough when the ground pistachio nuts are added. Try the zest of half an orange or lemon.
- Transform them into almond and pistachio cookies by swapping the 25g of chopped pistachio nuts for chopped almonds instead. You can still pair them with dark chocolate and sea salt.
- Not sure about the sea salt? Forgo it but mix in white chocolate chips with the nuts and just dip the pistachio shortbread in the dark chocolate once baked.
- Add some crystalised ginger along with the nuts. Around 1 tablespoon of finely diced ginger will impart a lovely cosy warmth to these pistachio shortbread cookies.
More biscuits to try out
Have you made these pistachio, dark chocolate sea salt cookies? I hope you fell utterly in love with them. Please leave a comment and/ or rating to help other readers know they can trust this recipe too.
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Pistachio Biscuits with Salted Chocolate
- Mini food processor or electric coffee bean/ nut grinder
- 75 g Pistachio nuts (unsalted, de-shelled))
- 100 g Unsalted butter – room temperature
- 50 g Caster sugar
- 25 g Light brown sugar
- 120 g Plain (all purpose) flour
- Pinch of cooking salt
- 150 g Dark chocolate (I used 62%)
- Sea salt flakes (I used Maldon)
Make the biscuits
- Begin by blitzing 50g of the pistachio nuts in a processor or coffee grinder until reduced to a fine powder (similar in appearance to ground almonds, only green!)
- Chop the remaining 25g of nuts using a knife
- In a medium bowl, using electric beaters, cream the butter with the sugars until fluffy
- Add the cooking salt, flour, ground and chopped pistachios. Briefly stir with a metal spoon, then use your hands to complete the mixing. Stop mixing as soon as everything is combined properly
- Roll the dough into a cylinder (sausage) approximately 18cm long and 4cm wide. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for at least 4 hours
- Pre-heat the oven to 140°C/ 275°F/ GM1 and line 2 baking sheets with baking parchment
- Unwrap the dough, slice the ends off to neaten and then gently slice the cylinder into approximately 20 rounds each about 5mm thick.
- Lay the circles on the baking sheets, spaced 2cm apart. (Take care to pick the side that has the prettiest display of nuts and put this face up).
- Bake for around 20 minutes until beginning to turn golden. Remove from the oven, let rest for 2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely
- Chop the chocolate finely. Place ⅔ of it into a small heatproof bowl and melt in the microwave I do this by heating in 30 second bursts on full power, stirring occasionally. Once the chocolate has almost melted I add the remaining ⅓ chocolate and stir until it is all completely melted
- Take a biscuit and dip the bottom ⅓ in the chocolate, tilting the biscuit as necessary to ensure a good covering of chocolate. Place on greaseproof paper. Repeat with another 2 biscuits. Top each biscuit with a small pinch of sea salt flakes (don’t wait until you have dipped all 20 biscuits – the chocolate will have set too hard for the salt to stick)
- Keep repeating this dipping and sprinkling process with sets of 3 biscuits until all of the biscuits have been decorated
- Allow to set completely then transfer to an airtight container. Keeps for up to 5 days
- I always recommend using digital scales and the gram system of measurement when baking. It’s the most accurate method of weighing out ingredients.
- Chilling the dough is essential. Please don’t skip this part.
- Use a sharp, non-serated knife to cut the cookies.
- Rotate the baking sheets half-way through the cooking time to ensure a more even bake.
- And, if your baking sheets are on different shelves of the oven it’s also a good idea to swap them over. again, this helps ensure the entire batch of biscuits bakes more evenly.
- Try almonds or hazelnuts in place of the pistachio nuts. Both of these break down well to create a nut ‘flour’ too.
- It’s very easy to make these pistachio cookies vegan. Simply swap the dairy butter for block vegan butter and add ¼ teaspoon salt to the flour to help bolster the flavour.