Every year our local newspaper, the St. Pete Times, prints a cookie issue for the holidays.
This year was the 10th anniversary of the Christmas cookie issue so they featured a “Best of the Best – Cookie Hall of Fame”.
Chocolate Pistachio Fingers certainly qualify in every way.
These are light buttery cookies dunked in chocolate and then dipped in chopped nuts.
They are easy to make and look (and taste) fancy and fabulous.
Here’s what you need:
Pistachio Nuts, Butter, Egg, Sugar, Almond Paste*, Flour, and Chocolate.
*Almond paste is ground up almonds, sugar and a little oil for binding sold in a can. I found it in the baking aisle of my regular grocery store near things like icing and cans of sweetened condensed milk. Almond paste is similar to but not the same as marzipan. Marzipan has much more sugar so it is not a good substitute for real almond paste.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
It is very important for this recipe that your butter be soft and at room temperature. Be sure to set the butter out for an hour or two before you begin baking.
In a large bowl or the bowl of a mixer, combine 3/4 cup softened butter (that’s 1 1/2 sticks) with 1/3 cup sugar. Mix or cream these together until they are well blended, light and fluffy.
Measure out 1/3 cup of almond paste – about 3 ounces or half a can. It is thick – sort of the consistency of play-doh.
Separate 1 egg. You can use the back and forth method of moving the yolk between the halves of the eggshell OR you can use my finger method of letting the egg white slip through your fingers while the yolk stays on top.
Add the 1/3 cup of almond paste and the egg yolk to the bowl and mix them until combined and creamy.
With the mixer on low, add 1 2/3 cups flour and mix until the flour is combined. Don’t forget to scrape the bottom and the sides of the bowl to be sure all the flour is mixed in.
The dough should be very light and smooth. Turn the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap or waxed paper. Form it into a ball, cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
Chilling the dough slightly makes it much easier to handle.
To form the cookies, pull a little piece – about 2 teaspoons – off of the dough…
and form it into a little finger shape.
You’ll find that you don’t really roll these into little logs but rather sort of shape them with your fingers as you go. The dough is pretty soft so try not to handle it any more than you absolutely need to.
Place the dough fingers on a parchment lined baking sheet about two inches apart.
Bake at 350 degrees for 10 – 12 minutes until the edges are just beginning to turn golden brown.
For best results, bake only one pan at a time.
Even if your cookies are not turning golden, don’t bake them more than 12 or maybe 14 minutes at the longest or they will be too dry and brittle.
Remove the cookies and cool completely on wire racks.
Once the cookies are cool, they get the royal treatment with melted chocolate and pistachios.
For this recipe you want natural pistachios as plain as you can get them. Lightly salted is okay but be sure to read the package so that you don’t get them with any kind of odd seasoning like lime or cayenne pepper. That would be an unpleasant cookie surprise. You might be able to find pistachios already shelled, but if not it’s very easy to split open the little shells and take out the green nut.
The hard part, as always, is refraining for eating all the nuts that you have just shelled.
Finely chop 1/2 cup of pistachios.
Go over the nuts several times with your knife or pulse them in a food processor to get a very fine chop into tiny little bits.
To melt the chocolate we need to make a double boiler. If you made the Peanut Butter Balls posted earlier this week, you’ve already worked with melting chocolate in a double boiler.
If this is new to you, it’s very easy. Put 1 – 2 inches of water in the bottom of a small sauce pan. Find a heat-resistant bowl that fits over the top of the sauce pan.
Put the pan of water on medium high heat so that the water comes to a simmer or light boil. Be sure that the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl that you’ve placed on top.
Put 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips into the pan on top of the double boiler. The water below will provide heat to gently melt the chocolate without fear of burning.
Stir the chocolate as it melts until it is smooth. Once you hear the water boiling in the pan underneath, turn it down just a bit.
Carefully dip the cooled cookies into the melted chocolate.
You might also need to use a spatula to help scoop the chocolate up onto the cookies. These cookies are quite tender so hold them lightly and work quickly so they don’t break.
However, if they break, you get to eat the evidence.
After the chocolate, quickly dip the cookie into the bowl of finely chopped pistachios.
Put the completed cookies on a wax paper lined pan to harden. You can also speed this along by putting the finished cookies in the refrigerator.
Just for fun, I also dipped some cookies in chopped pecans. Also good.
Try your best to wait for the chocolate to cool and harden, then dig in!
I like these cookies because they are not overly sweet. Flakey shortbread meets dark chocolate and nuts.
Definitely worth the cookie hall of fame.
Here’s the recipe – Adapted from the St. Pete Times