Persian Rice Flour Cookies (Naan Berenji)
The other day I woke up in panic after "hearing" the fire alarm go off. In the midst of my dreamy haze, I ran to the kitchen, positive I'd be running into a room filled with dark, charcoal smoke and could practically hear our upstairs neighbor was cursing my name. In my dream I had forgotten to set my timer and had left a sheet of cookies in the oven to be burnt to a crisp. Thank goodness it was only a dream (nightmare) but man did it suck. Does anyone else dream about forgetting something in the oven, or is it just me, after having baked my way through quite a few days of cookies that takes those fears to be with them. Needless to say, that day, I double checked every timer and checked on my cookies a little more than I should have.
Thank goodness, I didn't forget these cookies in the oven because I would have been crushed. They're gorgeous, have a crumbly, sandy texture, and pretty much melt in your mouth. I have to confess that I didn't even know Persian Rice Flour Cookies were a thing until my mom told me about them. She sent me a photo, told me they had rose water, and I was immediately sold. I mean, hello, they're beautiful, made with rice flour (I love rice flour), and they're even gluten-free! What's not to love right?
Well, when I decided to make these for this cookie series, the first thing I did was text one of my favorite Persians, Raha. I asked her if Persian Rice Flour Cookies were exclusive to the Persian New Year or if they were enjoyed year round and her response was, hmm, I don't think I've heard of them. My heart slumped. But then I asked, "really, you haven't had Naan Berenji." DUH. I should have used the Persian name because she replied with something along the lines of "oh, I love Naan Berenji and we have them whenever we go back to Iran." She also told me they're perfect paired with tea. Best thing she shared with me was the way to a Persian's heart: pistachios! These cookies are loaded with pistachios because they're lovely, taste amazing, add a ton of texture, and, well, I like being loved!
Persian Rice Flour Cookies (Naan Berenji)
Barely Adapted from Tumeric & Saffron
Makes around 2 1/2 - 3 dozen cookes
- 1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
- 1/2 c. water
- 1 Tbsp. rose water
- 3 c. rice flour
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 c. vegetable oil
- 2 Tbsp. fine baker's sugar
- 1 tsp. ground cardamom
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 3 Tbsp. crushed pistachios
- Baking sheets
- Silpat mat or parchment paper
- Medium mixing bowl
- Stand mixer
- Silicone spatula
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Wire cooling racks
- Small saucepan
- 1 1/2 Tbsp. cookie scoop
- Cookie stamps or spoon
- In small saucepan, combine granulated sugar and water over medium heat and bring to a boil. Stir often, with silicone spatula, to dissolve sugar and heat for about 5 minutes. As soon as sugar has completely dissolved, reduce heat and simmer for about 8-10 minutes or until the mixture thickens to about one cup. Remove pan from heat and stir in rose water. Set aside to cool.
- While syrup is cooling, whisk rice flour and cardamom together in medium mixing bowl and set aside.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer, whisk (by hand) egg yolks and fine sugar until smooth and creamy. Add butter and oil and attach bowl to mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Beat until fluffy, at least two minutes. Add the vanilla extract and flour mixture and beat till combined. Gradually add in one cup of the cooled sugar syrup and beat until well combined. Place the dough in a container, cover with a plastic wrap and refrigerate for five to six hours.
- Position rack to middle of oven and preheat to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with silpat mats or parchment paper. Scoop 1 1/2 Tbsp. rounds with cookie scoop and flatten slightly in the palm of your hand. If using cookie stamps, carefully stamp each slightly flattened round directly onto baking sheet. If using a spoon, continue to flatten round till it's around 1/4" thick and place on baking sheet. Sprinkle crushed pistachios on tops of cookies. Bake for 14-17 minutes. Let cookies set on sheet for 5 minutes then transfer to racks to cool completely.
- Serve and enjoy or package and gift!