Snackcrafting: Thinking warm thoughts with saffron sables

I'm so tired of winter. It was snowing last weekend. Snowing. I mean, flurrying, whatever. That shit is not cool.

To keep from crying, I'm trying to think warm and sunny thoughts to urge spring to actually happen. Part of this plan involved making these cookies. They're flavored with saffron, which is made from flowers, which is totally springlike, right? The saffron and egg yolks also lend a cheery yellow hue, which one could argue looks like the sun if one was suffering from reduced brain function as a result of vitamin D deficiency.

A pinch of cardamom gives a slight warming effect, which counteracts our denial about the fact that we're still experiencing sub-40 temperatures.

That said, this cookie dough is very easy to freeze—much like my body was this winter—so go ahead and save some for later. Once it's actually spring, these would be divine for making bite-sized ice cream sandwiches to put in a picnic basket and eat on a sunny day in the Druid Hill Park. Just soften some vanilla ice cream and fold in some chopped dates, spread it between two of these cookies, and safely give winter the finger—from some time safe in late April.

Saffron Sables
Adapted from Slice-and-Bake Cookies by Smitten Kitchen

2 tablespoons milk
1 generous pinch saffron
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup powdered sugar, sifted
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup chopped roasted and salted cashews
2 cups (280 grams) all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
coarse flake salt

Microwave milk in a small bowl on high for 15 seconds to scald. Or heat it in a tiny saucepan on your stove, if you're one of those people who doesn't have a microwave. Once the milk is nice and hot, crumble in the saffron threads and stir them in. Marvel at the beautiful color, then set aside to steep for at least 15 minutes.

In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the softened butter and sugar until fully combined. Scrape down the sides as necessary.

Add the egg yolks then beat until smooth. Add vanilla extract and saffron-milk mixture (including the threads) and beat until just combined. Then add the cashews and, you guessed it, beat until just combined.

In a medium bowl, stir together flour and cardamom until fully combined. Dump the dry mixture into the mixer and beat until just combined—it's better to underbeat than overbeat. Use a spatula to finish it if you're worried.

Gather the dough into a cohesive ball, then wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to firm it up a little bit.

Remove from the fridge and split dough into two equal pieces. Form each piece of dough into a log that is about 1 1/2 inches thick. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours. At this point, the dough can be wrapped in foil over the plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to a month.

When you're ready to bake, heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpats.

Use a very sharp knife to cut your cookie logs into 1/3-inch slices. Place the cookies on your baking sheets with at least 1 inch of space in between them. Crumble a tiny pinch of coarse-flake salt on top of each cookie.

Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until they are just set. Transfer the cookies to cooling racks and allow to cool.

Snackcrafting is a blog series about culinary creativity with a dash of arts-and-crafts panache. Fill your pantry, fridge, and freezer with homemade goodies to eat and share.

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