Saturday, November 23, 2013

Saffron Cookies with Rose Icing

Have you ever had one of those experiences where you encounter something so potent it immediately transports you elsewhere, makes you forget where you are? Before you get any ideas, I'm not referring to anything illegal :), but the exotically fragrant combination of saffron, cardamom and ghee, like in these cookies.

I first made a batch of these cookies a year ago. The sensory experience began as soon as I opened containers and the ingredients exuded their individual fragrances. But the magical moment was when those scents combined. Instantly, I was back in India, memories of countless mithai shops and festival celebrations swamping my mind. I actually stopped working and just stood there, eyes closed, till that wave of nostalgia receded.

Since then, I've made these cookies quite a few times. I was initially drawn to try this recipe as it is eggless, and I thought it'd be handy to have a good eggless rolled cookie recipe. But I go back to it every now and then because it is such a powerful, not to mention delicious, reminder of some of the best things of home.

The original recipe comes from Divine Taste, a beautiful blog run by the sister of a dear friend, and can be found here. I've stayed true to it, except for the pistachios. Though I like munching on pistachios by themselves, I've never cared for them strewn across any sweet. The cookies still taste gorgeous plain, but my decorating instinct insisted on some adornment, so the next time, I drizzled a simple icing sugar glaze over them.

Even then I wasn't fully satisfied. Something kept nagging me and I knew there was potential to enhance this cookie still further. I started thinking of flavours that would complement the saffron, and the answer struck almost instantly - rose water.

Rose Icing
1 cup sifted icing sugar
2-3 tbsp rose water

Add the rose water gradually to the icing sugar, just till you get the consistency of honey. Put the icing in a piping bag or a ziploc bag with one corner snipped off a bit. Alternatively, you can just drizzle the icing from a spoon, only the drizzles wouldn't be as uniform.

The only downside of this icing is that it doesn't dry hard; so you can either ice the cookies right before serving, or then store them in a way that the icing doesn't touch anything else. If you would like to package these cookies as gifts, I'd recommend using royal icing as it sets hard. Rose water blends beautifully with royal icing, and when you use this icing you have the added advantage of being able to pipe on any design you fancy. So you can add rose water gradually to the royal icing till you get drizzling consistency, or just add a few drops till you get piping consistency.


The last time I made these cookies was this Diwali. Since it was the festival of lights, I used these cookies to try out an idea I'd come across recently - cookie tealight holders!

I decorated these with some gold cachous and rose royal icing. I'm pleased to say my edible tealight stands lasted brilliantly through all the nights of Diwali. I'd really wanted to get into a how-to over here, but then felt this post would seem unending. So I promise I'll be back with a post on making these tealight stands.

In the meanwhile, please try out the cookie recipe. Whether you choose to leave them plain, garnish with pistachios or decorate with rosy icing, I can guarantee you a truly memorable, definitively desi cookie!