16 December 2007

Pistachio-Cranberry Cookie Sticks

A lot of people say that bakers, because they follow recipes that rely on precise weights and measures, are the more precise (dare we say rigid) of the kitchen staff, while cooks have the liberty to be more free spirits and daredevils in the kitchen. While I do think cooking and baking are different arts, I don't think this classification is at all true. When I read a baking recipe, I read it for the bones of its structure: the proportions of ingredients, the technique, the temperatures. But when it comes to flavor, I say it's open season on experimentation and creativity. You can take a good base cookie or cake or cheesecake recipe and extrapolate it into a million different flavor variations.

I am saying this because experimentation is how I discovered one of my favorite cookie recipes. I came across a recipe one day for Almond-Cocoa Nib Cookies from the lovely Alice Medrich, whose recipes always come out brilliantly. But I had neither almonds nor nibs, and somehow an almond cookie wasn't really tickling my fancy anyway. I do, however, always keep a good supply of pistachios around, and when brainstorming what to combine them with, dried cranberries seemed like an obvious good choice.

When I first made them, back in the summer, I immediately knew they were destined for my holiday cookie box. First of all, they are red and green colored, and I love the long cookie sticks, I can just see them sticking up out of a cup, waiting for Santa. Second, they are supremely easy to make, just blitz in a food processor and cut with a pizza cutter. I've rarely had a cookie so full of flavor and perfectly crisp, there are plenty of pistachio cookies out there, but few made with pistachio meal (ground pistachios). When I was making these for holiday packages, I ended up cutting them into bite size pieces, and then drizzling the cookies with some white chocolate to make them even more festive. My friend joked they were no longer cookie sticks but cookie stubs, but I think anyone who tastes them will simply call them yum.

Pistachio-Cranberry Cookie Sticks
These colorful cookie sticks are perfect for dipping in a glass of milk. For an extra festive touch drizzle with melted white chocolate.

3/4 cup whole pistachios
1 cup+ 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
1/3 cup chopped dried cranberries or dried cherries

1. Combine the pistachios, flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse until it is a fine meal. Add the butter and pulse until the dough looks crumbly. Combine the water, vanilla, and almond extract and add it to the bowl, pulsing until it just looks damp. Add the dried cranberries and pulse until evenly distributed.
2. On a piece of parchment paper, roll out the dough into a 6x9 in rectangle that's 1/2 inch thick. Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Using a pizza cutter or a long knife, cut 3/8 in thick slices and place them on parchment lined cookie sheets, about 1 inch apart. Bake 12-14 minutes, until golden at the edges. Do not over bake, they will continue to firm as they cool.


bakeorbreak said...

These look delicious! Interesting flavor combinations...

sarah said...

hi mercedes, i discovered your blog about a week ago and i can't stop looking through it -- it is so beautiful and inspiring.
and so, i think i'm going to make my first attempt at holiday cookie gifts, through the mail and all!
i really want to make these, but i don't have a food processor. only a blender & electric mixer. (i should really invest in a mortar&pestle...)
do you have any advice for how i could still get the meal texture to turn out right?
thanks kindly-

Mercedes said...

Jennifer- thanks!

Sarah- do you have a coffee grinder? Because my first thought would be to grind the nuts in a coffee grinder first, then do the rest of the recipe by hand (that's actually how I did it). I wouldn't recommend the blender for chopping nuts. You may want to consider investing in a coffee grinder or one of those mini-prep choppers. They're pretty cheap ($20) and a worthwhile investment.

Dori said...

Pistachios are sooo good! What a great recipe.

Marilyn said...

Keep up the good work. Merry Christmas!

Jesper said...

THey look lovely - and what a great way of sneaking in some cranberries into Christmas baking!

Hillary said...

Whoa! Those are so different but they sound amazing!!! Thanks for sharing this recipe. Happy Holidays Mercedes!

xtinehlee said...

Thank you so much, Mercedes, for the tip on my blog--and I loove this recipe, and will try it!

Modestmerlin said...

arabs sure do love their pistachios! i can still taste that pistachio ice cream, served night after night during the syrian dinner parties of my childhood.

Unknown said...

You can buy pistachio meal from Santa Barbara Pistachios. They have a website you can order products from them.
I used their meal on a fish dish I baked.

claudia said...

Hello Mercedes and All,
I made these and they were a success. Please note: all europe based bakers ADD MORE FLOUR. Our flour is different. If you don't the cookies will come out flat. (trust me it happened to me several times)
Just add until the consistancy seems right. (2 spoons per cup is a good average)

Anonymous said...

Made these for Christmas this year. Not much to say other than these are good cookies. I only had salted pistachios on hand, but they still tasted great.