A staple during Nowruz (Persian New Year) festivities, these delicate cookies are flavored with rosewater and cardamom and have a texture similar to shortbread. Made with rice flour, nan berenji are also gluten-free. Traditionally, one forms balls from the dough, then presses them with a Persian cookie stamp that leaves a curved ridged design on top of the cookie, but you can achieve a similar effect using a spoon. Be sure to let the dough fully rest in the fridge so the flour has time to hydrate and the flavors can meld.
Beat the confectioners’ sugar and butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer until creamy. Add the yolks and mix until creamy and smooth, about 1 minute. Add the rosewater and cardamom and mix until combined, about 1 minute.
Add the rice flour and stir using a rubber spatula until you have a soft dough that’s still a bit moist, about 3 minutes. If needed, add more rice flour 1 tablespoon at a time. Transfer the dough to a clean bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, 4 to 6 hours.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Scoop 1/2 tablespoon of the dough and roll it into a ball. Place the ball on the prepared baking sheet and gently press it into a 1/2-inch-thick disc. Repeat with the remaining dough, spacing the discs 2 inches apart. Using the edge of a small spoon, gently make a series of curved indentations on top of each disc, radiating out from the center. Sprinkle with sesame seeds (if using).
Bake until the edges start to lightly brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes, then transfer the cookies to a wire rack. The cookies keep, refrigerated in an airtight container, for up to 4 days.
When measuring flour, we spoon it into a dry measuring cup and level off the excess. (Scooping directly from the bag compacts the flour, resulting in dry baked goods.)
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