Now, I have to wait until someone in my family other than me has tried these cookies this holiday season, but I think I'm accurate in saying that these will become a new cookie tradition in our family. Actually, we don't really HAVE a specific cookie tradition now. It's more like, whatever I feel like cooking or baking that year. However, these cookies look so festive and they taste great (think Pecan Sandies with a touch of white chocolate frosting and some chewy cranberries on top), and they're actually really easy to make! There are specific steps involved in making them and you need to take the hour and a half or so that it may take you to do this, but it's worth it. You end up with a lot of cookies and they're pretty. And really, yes cookies should taste good, but they should definitely be PRETTY! Why the heck else are you going to spend all this time on them?
I got this recipe from Epicurious.com, probably my favorite place to find recipes on the web. I love that site because it has a lot of the kind of recipes I like: really good and just challenging enough to make that it keeps things interesting. I really kinda hate recipes that are like, "take this, this, and this... stir it up, and you're done". No fun. Cooking is my "arts and crafts" time with a bonus: I get to eat my project. :-)
Another thing I love about Epicurious.com is the user reviews. I always read them - every single one - before I make a recipe. They are invaluable. They save you the trouble of figuring out what you could have done better when making the recipe after it's already been made. So in reading the reviews for these cookies, I saw one very strong theme. These cookies have become tradition in many families since the recipe was published in Gourmet magazine in 1997. The reviewers, whom on Epicurious are usually people that know cooking and cook often, couldn't say enough about how everyone loved these and that they make them every year. Sadly, there's no picture of these cookies on the original recipe posting, which was an even bigger reason to make them! They sounded so pretty, I had to see them for myself!
Another theme in the user reviews was all about the white chocolate topping. The recipe tells you to melt the chocolate and butter together in a saucepan. The reviewers say "don't do this!" They suggested melting the chocolate first, even using more chocolate than originally called for, then stirring in the melted butter at the end. This is how I did it so that I could control how thin the chocolate got. If the amount of butter they called for seemed to be too much, I wouldn't have added all of it. I ended up using all the butter, but doubled the amount of chocolate used. This made sure there was enough topping for all the cookies (another concern of many reviewers) and also made sure there wasn't too much butter that may have taken away from the taste of the white chocolate. Other than that, I changed nothing else and didn't need to - these cookies taste absolutely fantastic.
To make these beauties, I started by whisking together one egg with some lemon and almond extract.
In the food processor, I pulsed together flour, pistachios, sugar, and salt without completely grinding up the pistachios.
Next, I added the softened butter and pulsed until it formed a coarse meal. I then added the egg mixture and pulsed until it formed a dough (which only took a few seconds).
I removed the dough from the food processor and worked it just a little on my board with some flour so that it felt smooth and cohesive. No need to grab your rolling pin, there's no rolling involved in this recipe.
The recipe tells you to use a teaspoon to measure these out, but I used a tablespoon. I thought the cookies looked a little too small the other way. So all you do is drag the tablespoon against the dough ball to fill it with dough, remove the dough from the tablespoon,
and roll it into a ball. Place the little dough ball on your cookie sheet.
Once your cookie sheet is filled with dough balls, with some space in between each one of course, it's time to make a thumbprint into each one. Press down until you almost hit the bottom of the cookie because as these bake, that hole will become more shallow.
Bake the cookies in batches in the lower third of your oven until the bottoms are a pale golden color, about 12 minutes.
Once the cookies are cooled, it's time to make the topping. Take a big handful of pistachios and another of dried cranberries (I used Craisins). Chop them up a bit so you can see the green of the inside of the pistachios and the cranberry pieces are small enough to sprinkle onto the cookies. Set those aside.
Get some good quality white chocolate and break it apart so you can melt it. Now, I always melt my chocolate in the microwave. Just nuke it a little bit at a time and when it looks almost melted, take it out and stir it up and it'll finish melting the rest of the way. It's the easiest way to do it.
I then melted the butter in the microwave, then slowly stirred it into the chocolate until the chocolate was thin enough to pour into the top of each cookie.
Then, using a spoon to control the amount, drizzle enough chocolate into the top of each cookie to fill the little thumbprint. Then sprinkle some pistachio and cranberry on top of each one.
Let them sit long enough for the chocolate to set before storing them to take to your holiday party.
That's it! Easy, right? Seriously - it really was. And they were fun to make, too. Relaxing, even. Give them a try and maybe you'll start a new family cookie tradition this year, too!
I'm not done baking yet! In the next couple of days, I'll be making some Panettone Bread Pudding with Cinnamon Syrup, so don't miss it! If you're not back by the time Christmas rolls around, then Merry Christmas to you!