Friday, February 28, 2014

Pistachio Orange Cookies

And now, another belated Christmas cookie post - but a very important one!  These are Charlie's favorite Christmas cookies ever, and are the first cookies I always make for the season.  Honestly though, I don't think they have to be made just at Christmas time.


We first found the recipe in the Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper, and it was the Christmas cookie contest winner from several years ago.  After we tried the cookies, we knew why! 


The cookies are crisp and buttery.




The filling is flavored with pistachios and fresh orange.



And after the cookies are sandwiched together, the edges of the sandwich are rolled in finely chopped pistashios.







As you can see, each cookie is perfectly sized to pop in your mouth in a single bite!






Pistachio Orange Cookies


Cookies
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus extra for rolling dough
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Filling
  • 1 cup raw shelled pistachios, divided
  • 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
  • Freshly grated zest of 1 orange, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk (or use 1 tablespoon milk and 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice)

To make the cookies, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, cream of tartar and baking soda, and reserve.
In a bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg and vanilla extract and beat until thoroughly combined. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture, in thirds, mixing until just incorporated.

Form dough into ½-inch balls.  Roll dough balls in granulated sugar and place 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake until cookies are set but not browned, about 11 minutes (cookies will puff up in oven, but flatten as they cool). Remove from oven and cool 2 minutes before transferring cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the filling, in food processor fitted with a metal blade, pulse ½ cup pistachios until very fine (the nuts should almost clump together in a paste between your fingers).

In a bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter with orange zest until light and fluffy. Add orange extract and vanilla extract and mix until thoroughly combined.  Reduce speed to low and add powdered sugar, in thirds, alternating with milk (or milk and orange juice), beginning and ending with powdered sugar, and beat until smooth (you may need another tablespoon or so of liquid to reach desired consistency). Fold in pistachios, mixing until thoroughly incorporated.

And finely, to assemble the cookies: finely chop remaining 1/2 cup pistachios and place in a shallow dish. Spread a generous dollop of filling on bottom of a cookie. Top with another cookie, bottom side up to make  your sandwich, and gently press cookies together until filling is just at edge of cookies. Roll filled edge in chopped pistachios. Repeat until all cookies form sandwiches.

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