This is Pistachio and Apricot jam cookie, or as we call in Iran, “Shirini Morabaii,” which translates to jam cookies! These are butter cookies that are lightly scented with rosewater and vanilla; filled with sweet tart apricot jam and sprinkled with chopped pistachios. This shirini is as delicate as it looks; you will want to devour it in one bite, or show self control and take two bites. It melts in the mouth with a mild sweetness that is delightfully complemented with the sweet tart apricot jam in the center.
Shirini refers to any kind of pastry or sweets in Farsi! It could be Shirini Napoleoni – puff pastry layered with homemade pastry cream. It could be Rollet – A thin and moist layer of cake, filled and rolled with rosewater and vanilla-scented whipped cream. Shirini Latifeh and Ghorabieh are Tabriz specialties; one a feather-light pastry filled with rosewater-scented whipped cream, and the other is a type of almond macaroon cookie that is crispy and chewy at the same time. And one must not forget the Iranian childhood favorite cookie, Shirini Keshmeshi which is a soft vanilla-scented raisin cookie, sparsely dotted with plump raisins.
All of these pastries are popular during the festivities related to traditional ceremonies such as, Nowruz (also spelled Norooz), weddings, birthday parties, and so on. I dare say, Iranians have a sweet tooth, but they are also very selective about their pastries! You see, when I was growing up in Tabriz, Iran, we had some of the best bakeries in my hometown. None of them used margarine; there was no ‘artificial vanilla flavoring,’ and the bakers knew better than to cut cost by skimping on good ingredients! All of this was the right formula for creating some of the most amazing pastries and cookies, and this shirini meets those standards and then some!
The dough for this Shirini Morabaii is made with butter and is soft enough to be piped. In the past, I have used my cookie press to make the same cookie in different shapes. If you decide to use your cookie press, avoid using the disks that dispense dough smaller than 1 1/2-inches; there should be enough surface to hold the jam. The apricot preserves is added in the center of dough before baking. Any fruit preserves would work for this shirini, but it should be blended until smooth. I don’t recommend using jams or jellies that are already smooth and soft; they tend to get baked into the cookie and are not as attractive.
The following pictures are to illustrate some highlights; please read the printable recipe before baking these cookies:
Preheat your oven to 350 F, center rack (you will be baking one sheet at at time). Get all the ingredients ready before you start. Bring butter and egg yolks to room temperature by leaving them on the counter, for at least 30 minutes. Finely chop 1/4 cup unsalted pistachios by hand or a food processor (use pulse action a few times so you don’t end up with powder). Blend the apricot jam in a food processor until smooth, without any fruit pieces.
Gently push the dough inside the bag towards the tip, to release any air pocket (‘burp’ the bag) before you start to pipe. Now twist the top to compact the dough further. I recommend practice piping couple of rosettes on a plate or parchment paper; this will eliminate the air pockets and it will also let you see if you’re pleased with the shape of your piped dough. Put the piped dough back in the bowl and proceed with piping. To pipe a rosette: Gently squeeze the bag close to the twisted top, pipe out a basic star, then continue pressing and piping out a complete 1 ½ inch circle, that begins at the center of the star and ends at the same point. If you don’t like the look of your rosette, gently remove it and put it back in the dough and continue piping. This might take some practice if you’re new at this, but keep in mind that no matter how the cookies look, they’re going to taste amazing. Continue piping the rosettes with 1 to 1 1/2 inch space between them; this dough increases in size when it bakes. Just to give you an idea, the 1 1/2 inch piped dough will bake into a 2 1/4 inch cookie. Pipe enough rosettes to fill one baking sheet (about 25 or 30)
Store the cooled cookies in an airtight container with a parchment paper between each layer. These cookies keep well covered over the counter for 3-4 days. They also freeze very well for about 2 months. I hope you will enjoy these cookies for this upcoming Nowruz, and for all of your happy occasions. As much as I adore coffee, these cookies pair exceptionally well with a glass of fresh brewed Persian black tea. Happy Nowruz and a prosperous New Year to you and your loved ones. Nowruz Mobarak!!
Temperature: 350 F, center rack
Yields: 4 dozens+ cookies
You will need: 2 large baking sheets (12 x 17 inches). A 10 or 12-inch piping bag, fitted with a ½-inch star tip (Wilton 1M).
- 1 cup (8 ounces, or 2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2 large egg yolks, room temperature
- ⅓ tsp vanilla powder, or 1 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
- 2 tsp rose water
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ tsp salt
- Filling and topping:
- ¼ cup unsalted pistachios
- ½ cup apricot preserves
- Preheat oven to 350 F, center rack.
- Prepare and set aside: Leave the butter and egg yolks on the counter for at least 30 minutes (covered)* Sift the flour with salt* Finely chop the pistachios* Blend the apricot preserves until smooth and without any fruit pieces.
- Lightly grease two large baking sheets by rubbing a cold piece of butter on the entire surface. you will be baking one baking sheet at a time.
- Add one cup softened butter to the bowl of your stand mixer (or use your hand mixer). Using a paddle attachment beat the softened butter on medium speed (#6 on KitchenAid) until smooth. If the butter is soft enough this should take less than 1 minute. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.
- Add ½ cup sugar and beat on low speed until blended, then beat on medium high for 2 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the egg yolks, rosewater, vanilla powder (or vanilla extract) and beat until blended.
- Add the sifted flour/salt mixture; beat on low speed until incorporated, then beat on medium until you have a smooth dough. Do not overbeat!
- Fill the prepared pastry bag halfway with the dough; gently press the dough and move it towards the tip to release any air pockets (‘burp’ the bag). Twist the opening of the pastry bag and pipe couple of practice rosettes on a plate; this eliminates the air pockets and gives you an idea about the shape and size of your piped rosette. Return the practice rosettes to the bowl of batter.
- To pipe rosettes: With gentle pressure at the top of the pastry bag pipe out a simple star, then continue squeezing and piping out a complete 1½-inch circle that ends at the center of the star. Leave 1 to 1 ½-inch space between each rosette and pipe as many as you can fit on one baking sheet (about 25-30).
- Prepare the rosettes for baking: Touch the dough with one finger, dip it in the chopped pistachio and press it in the center of the rosette, continue dipping your finger in the pistachio every time you make an indentation in the rest of the rosettes. Next, sprinkle extra pistachios on top. Then add ¼ teaspoonful of apricot jam in the center of each rosette. I find it’s more efficient to do each of these steps on all of the rosettes, before moving on to the next step.
- When you're done with adding the jam in the center of the dough, place the cookie sheet on the center rack and bake for 10-14 minutes. Start piping the rosettes for the second cookie sheet. The bake time is going to depend on your oven and the size of your cookies. Look for the edges to turn a light golden brown. Remove the baking sheet from the oven.
- Use a flexible thin spatula to transfer one of the cookies to a cooling rack. If the bottom is also a light golden brown, transfer all of the cookies to the baking rack. If the bottom is still pale, return the baking sheet back to the oven and bake for another 2-3 minutes. Watch them closely; they burn quickly at this point.
- Enjoy these delicate buttery Shirini Morabaii on your special occasions with a glass of fresh brewed Persian black tea.
This recipe has been adapted from here.