Forget about what you think you're supposed to/want to/eat. This is cookie season by God, and no matter what Holiday if any you celebrate, NO ONE is going to let you off their premises without stuffing you full of some sort of baked goods. I'm not talking about the legendary subject of all those jokes, the fruitcake. Anyone can get fruitcake. You want fruitcake? I'll get ya a fruitcake by 3:00 this afternoon (if you're not a Lebowskiite ignore that.) I'm talking hardcore Christmas cookies. The ones shaped like things, covered with neon bright boiled frosting and studded with stuff that doesn't look like it should be edible, but is.
I grew up in a house where Christmas was always marked by the Italian version of fruitcake... Pannetone.
One had to be careful about those as the cheaper relatives were known to keep these things in the box and just regift it next year.
Unlike fruticake they don't get better with age.
There are a few other "unique" traditions. When other kids were singing about Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer we had something else to sing about. Yeah really.
Sooooo.... after all that, it's kind of hard to roll out reindeer Christmas cookies if you get my drift. We're doing a lot of entertaining in the new house house this winter and it struck me that it might be time to get into cookie making. Cookies are notoriously fast, easy and I remember hearing someplace a long time ago that they could be made ahead, stored in the freezer or fridge and just rolled out and baked. Sounded good to me. With all the stuff going on, anything with the word ahead in it, was an absolute must. Remarkably I found a few totally elegant cookie recipes in this book.
The flavors are subtle, they're easy to make, and like I said.....ahead, ahead. ahead!!
Chocolate Pistachio Orange Cookies
Here's What You Need:
1 cup of unsalted butter . (I use grass fed pastured butter in my cooking, and especially when making European recipes such as these, I think it helps to get as close to the ingredients that would be used there, here.)
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbs powdered (confectioners) sugar
1 pinch of salt.
6 Tbs unsweetened cocoa powder. (once again use the best cocoa you can get your mitts on, trust me it 's worth it.)
2 1/4 cups of flour
3/4 cup blanched pistachios
zest of 1 orange
Here's What To Do:
In a large bowl, or a stand mixer mix together the butter...
Zest the orange and set it aside.
Cream the butter, sugar, and salt together until it's light and fluffy then add in the egg.
Mix the egg in well. When it's fully incorporated, sift together the cocoa and flour.
Add in the mixed cocoa and flour...
...and the orange zest.
When it's blended together, fold in the pistachios by hand.
The dough is stiff, so that's why you want to add the pistachios by hand.
On a lightly floured surface, or a silicone mat, roll the dough into a cylinder about 10 inches long and 2 inches across. I broke this dough into about 3 cylinders. Some for baking now and some for baking later.
Wrap the cylinders in waxed paper and pop them into the fridge to chill.
They can stay refrigerated there for several days before you bake, and I imagine one could also freeze the cylinders as long as they're tightly wrapped since this is basically a butter cookie.
Set your oven rack to the upper and lower middle positions and preheat it to 375 degrees.
Line a couple of cookie sheets with parchment paper, or silicone mats.
When the oven is up to speed and the dough is nice and firm, unwrap and slice.
Not too thick but just right.
Put the sliced cookie dough on the baking sheet giving them enough room between, (about 1 inch) and pop them into the oven.
Bake them for about 12 minutes, or until the tops of the cookies seem dry.
Take them out of the oven, off the cookie sheet and set them on a rack to cool.
When they're nice and cool serve them up!
These cookies are amazing, and the orange zest adds just the right note of contrast with the chocolate. Plus they really, really, do keep well in the fridge for later baking. I found this out because I've baked these cookies over several days this week and they turned out great. I haven't tried the freezing trick yet, but I have tried one thing....my friend Jane the nurse told me that she freezes fresh baked cookies after cooling for later eating. So I tried it. I put the cookies in an airtight container in my freezer and I'm planning on testing them when the cousins come for Christmas.
Just had to take one more picture. Coming up next. I do go off the rails from what I usually do and will be featuring a couple more cookie recipes for holiday entertaining, a trick to try with all the fresh persimmons out there right now. I'm also going to try giving these recipes a gluten free spin and see what happens. Then Idili, I promise. Follow along on Twitter @kathygori