Friday, December 18, 2009

Pistachio Cookies

Nothing gets me in the Christmas spirit like Christmas movies. Now, I am not talking about cheeserific junk like Prancer or The Santa Clause. I hate the cheapness of those movies. I mean, really, there is no challenge. Is it really that hard to be in the Christmas spirit when you find a new pet reindeer? Or your Dad suddenly becomes Santa Claus? I like the Christmas movies that make their characters work for it, like Die Hard, Scrooged, and even more traditional picks like It's a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street. Life is decidedly not wonderful in It's a Wonderful Life; it begins with a guy wanting to commit suicide. And Miracle actually has Santa committed. Do you know what state-run, mental hospitals were like in the 40s? That's dark. Not to mention that no-bullshit little girl, who tells Santa to his face, that she doesn't believe in him. Those are some big, dramatic obstacles. And then there are the terrorists.

What I am trying to say is that Christmas spirit shouldn't be handed to you on a serving dish. You have to go through some tough times to realize just how nice you've got it. Which brings me to my next cookie recipe. Having watched "Die Hard" while I was baking my German Chocolate Cookies, (fitting, no?), I thought Scrooged, which is all about realizing the wonderfulness around you, would be the perfect picture to watch while I baked Pistachio Cookies. Why? Maybe because Frank Cross is like a pistachio, with a touch exterior and a sweet and salty sensitive side. Or maybe I just like watching Carol Kane hit Bill Murray in the face with a toaster.

Pistachio Cookies
(from The Washington Post cookie special)

3/4 cup (4 ounces) shelled, roasted, unsalted pistachios (plus about 50 for garnish)
2 tablespoons, plus 1 cup sugar
1 2/3 cups almond flour
2 large eggs

Yields about 30 cookies

Combine 3/4 cup pistachios and 2 tablespoons of sugar in a processor; pulse until finely chopped. Transfer to a bowl and mix in remaining cup of sugar and flour, using an electronic mixer. Beat on low speed to combine, then increase speed to medium and add eggs, one at a time. Cover and refrigerate dough for at least 8 hours. (It looks a little bit like baby food, but it tastes wonderful).

Position racks in upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Scoop out spoonfuls of dough and roll between your hands to form 1-inch balls. (More on this step later). Use a little bit of water to moisten your hands, if they start to get sticky. Place cookies on sheets about 1 inch apart. Press a pistachio on top of each ball, flattening the dough slightly. Bake on the upper and lower racks for 7 or 8 minutes, then rotate the sheets back to front and top to bottom. Bake for 7 or 8 minutes until cookies have spread slightly and the edges are a light brown. Cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack. Done!

I have one editorial note to make about the original recipe. I have absolutely no concept of size when it comes to anything smaller than a foot. I actually keep a desk tape measure in my kitchen utility drawer, not to actually measure things, but to give myself a mental image of what whatever measurement I am supposed to be using. Therefore, my cookies were a probably bigger than 3/4 of an inch called for in the original recipe. Hence, my only getting about 30 cookies out of this recipe.

All in all, these cookies were a great success. Don't be put off by their crunchy appearance; they are light and the perfect amount of chewiness. And they were SO easy. I made the dough in about 10 minutes on Wednesday night, and woke up early to bake them on Thursday morning. I was a little bummed that I didn't get more cookies out of the recipe, because I hoped to bring them to the work holiday party. However, Mom always taught me, if you don't have enough to share with everyone, don't bring anything at all. Boyfriend was delighted. Several times that morning, I caught him scurrying out of the kitchen with a couple freshly baked cookies tucked behind his cup of coffee.

1 comment:

Wicked Cranberry said...

P.S. The only exception to my cheesy Christmas movie rule is "Elf". That movie cracks me up.