Friday, 30 August 2013

Pistachio, Cranberry Shortbread Cookies

I love nuts.
Normally I don't use them because my girls have braces and Toronto schools are nut-free.
However, I could not resist!
I have had this recipe bookmarked for a long time and finally when pistachios went on sale,
I thought...perfect!

And perfect they were!
I think this is my new favourite cookie.

Loved the appearance, the texture and the flavour.
Great reviews from my family, friends and co-workers.

And because these were icebox cookies, you can make the dough and bake on another day.
Such as when someone calls and says, 'we are moments away from your house' and
you scream 'AGH!, What am I going to serve?'
Fret, no, more.
You can pull these out of the freezer, slice and bake.

I made 3 logs, which yielded approx. 35 cookies and
I also sliced the cookies kind-of on the thick-side.
I sampled a few and that is why the number of cookies are approximate.
Which lets you give some away and keep some for yourself.
This is a win-win situation.

The original recipe states to use,
maple syrup (and I used honey instead) and
whole wheat pastry flour (I used all-purpose flour).

The great thing about shortbread?
You don't need eggs!
A fantastic recipe to use when you are running low on eggs.

Give these a shot, I wouldn't be surprised if these don't end of being your new 'favourite' too.

Pistachio, Cranberry Shortbread Cookies

1  1/2 cups butter, room-temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1  1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 cup toasted, pistachios (then I cut the pistachios in half)

** To toast the pistachios, you can either toast them on the stove-top on medium-heat for
approx. 8-minutes stirring constantly, making sure they don't burn or
place the pistachios in a baking dish at 250F for approx. 8-minutes, taking them out of the oven to jiggle them around in the baking dish; again making sure they don't burn.

**How do you know when they have been toasted?
They give off an aroma and the skins usually split apart.
Remove them from the oven when they are fragrant and brown.
Allow them to cool to room temperature. I left their skins on.  You can either leave it on or off.

*With a paddle-attachment on medium-speed beat together the butter, sugar, honey and
vanilla extract until pale and fluffy.

*Using a rubber spatula, add the flour, one-cup-at-a-time.  Mixing well after each addition. 
And scraping down the sides of the bowl after each mix.
*Mix in the cranberries and pistachios.

*Shape the dough into logs. (I made 3 logs).
Wrap it tightly in either plastic wrap or parchment paper or wax paper (I used waxed paper).
Refrigerate for at least 2-hours or overnight.  (I chilled it for 4-hours).

*Preheat the oven to 350F.
Line the baking sheets/pans with either a Sil-Pat mat or parchment paper.

*Using a serrated knife, cut through the dough, once. 
No, back-and-forth method.  You are not cutting bread.
If the dough cracks, don't worry, just push it all together.  It will be just fine.
The recipe states to cut into 1/4 to 1/2-inch slices.
I just winged-it and they were good.  Just use your judgement.
Once sliced, place onto the baking sheet/pan.
They do spread, slightly.  Space them 1-inch apart.

*Bake for 15-minutes (depending on how thin or thick your slices are) or
until edges are golden-brown.
*Remove from oven, and transfer to a wire-rack to cool.

***Please Note:   I always use Salted Butter and then just omit the salt requested in the recipe.
You should do what you feel is best.


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