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Laurie Ellen's Saffron Honey Biscuits

Laurie Ellen, pastry chef and shortbread extraordinaire

Makes: 20 to 24 cookies

Laurie Ellen's Saffron Honey Biscuits
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Laurie Ellen

Kashmiri Saffron is the star in these luxurious golden cookies. The saffron will perfume the air with an intoxicating aroma as the biscuits mix. Honey enhances the saffron's natural sweetness, lingering on the tongue with a light floral and slightly funky element. Drawing inspiration from a storied history of Indian cookies and biscuits, this recipe is a collaborative effort with the Diaspora Co. team to take that tradition and further adapt it. These biscuits would make a lovely accompaniment to a warm beverage and welcome addition to any cookie tin.

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  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1 big pinch Kashmiri Saffron, crushed or very finely chopped
  • 1½ cups (210g) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup (90g) cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup (228g) unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup (100g) light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Granulated honey or organic cane sugar, to coat


  1. Heat milk in a small pot over medium heat until it reaches just under a boil. Remove from the heat, add the crushed saffron, stir, and allow to bloom and cool while you prepare the remaining ingredients.
  2. To prepare the dry ingredients, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until just lightening and a little fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes (it might take a little longer with the electric mixer). Add the honey, beat again to combine, then add the cooled, bloomed saffron milk, a little at a time, beating as you go until fully combined.
  4. Add the flour and beat on low speed until no dry streaks remain. Stop your mixer and using a rubber spatula, fold over a few times by hand to ensure the batter is even and no pockets of flour or unmixed butter remain. The overall hue should be an even, sunny yellow, if it looks streaky, give it a few more folds, the dough should be one smooth, creamy mass but should not stick much to your hands when patted. Gather the dough, wrap it in plastic, and pat it out to ½-inch thickness. Chill for at least 15 minutes.
  5. Remove the dough from the fridge and turn it out onto a lightly floured sheet of parchment. Dust with a little more flour and top with another sheet of parchment. Roll the dough out until it’s ¼-inch thick. Transfer your rolled dough to a sheet pan and chill until firm, about another 15 to 30 minutes.
  6. While the dough is chilling, preheat oven to 325°F. Fill a wide, shallow bowl with granulated honey. Remove the dough from the fridge and peel back the top layer of parchment. Cover back up with the layer of parchment, flip the dough sheet and peel back the second layer of parchment (this helps release the dough to make it easy to transfer to the baking sheets). Now, with flour-dusted cutters, cut rounds of dough out (a 2 ½-inch fluted cutter works nicely here) and transfer them to the bowl with granulated honey, coat both sides gently and transfer to parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing them a 1-inch apart (cookies don’t spread much). Gather scraps, re-roll and chill as before, cutting additional rounds from the scrap or save dough for a later use. If the dough warms up and gets sticky while you are working with it, transfer it to the fridge or freezer to chill briefly before proceeding.
  7. Bake the cookies, rotating after 8 minutes, until the edges just start to turn golden, about 11 to 13 minutes total. Remove from the oven and let cool on trays. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 month. (Dough can also be frozen after step 4 in a 1-inch thick block to be rolled out and baked at a future date.)

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