December 12, 2012
The Good Eating section's annual Holiday Cookie Contest produced the usual three winning recipes plus two honorable mentions. ("Sweets of the season," Nov. 28; if you missed it, go to chicagotribune.com/food.) But among the other five finalist cookies that made it to our tasting, one stood out to me.
And over the course of the following two weeks, as the Tribune test kitchen tested the winning recipes and we prepared the story and photos for publication, I kept coming back to that cookie, indulging in one or two as a snack nearly every day. It became clear that though it didn't rank among the top half, it's a special cookie and ought to be enjoyed widely.
So here's the recipe, pistachio cookies with dark chocolate shell from Liza Antelo, of Chicago. (You might call it an Editor's Pick.) In her essay accompanying her recipe entry, Antelo wrote about how her English mother, who she described as "an incredible hostess and cook," made this cookie long ago and served it over tea as the family sat around the Christmas tree in the afternoon.
I'm happy Antelo shared the family recipe with us. You'll enjoy the rich taste of pistachios, the sweet/salty balance and the indulgent dip in dark chocolate.
Cookie-making tips online
If you are setting out on your holiday baking or in the midst of the annual project, you might welcome some cookie-making tips from the Tribune's test kitchen. Recipe tester and food stylist Lisa Schumacher shares her tips in a video at chicagotribune.com/cookierolling
Pistachio cookies with dark chocolate shell
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 46 minutes
Makes: about 24 cookies
Note: From Liza Antelo, of Chicago.
2 cups shelled pistachios, about 12 ounces
2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/3 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups sifted flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon water
Granulated sugar, for rolling
4 ounces dark chocolate
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1. Heat oven to 300 degrees. Toast pistachios in the oven on a baking sheet until fragrant, 6-7 minutes. Allow to cool. Process nuts (in a food processor) until finely ground but not yet a paste.
2. Use an electric mixer at high speed to beat the butter with the confectioners' sugar and salt. Beat until light and fluffy. Lower the speed; gradually add flour until just blended. Do not overbeat. Add vanilla, almond extract and water. Gently mix in pistachios. Form into a ball.
3. Roll tablespoons of dough into balls. Pour about 1/2 cup granulated sugar into a shallow dish; roll and coat the balls in the sugar. Place the balls about 2 inches apart on greased or parchment-lined cookie sheets. Press down lightly on each cookie with the bottom of a glass to flatten slightly.
4. Bake on the top and middle shelves of the oven, about 20 minutes. Switch the sheets around; bake until cookies are slightly browned, 20 minutes. Cool cookies on baking sheet, 10 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, in a double-boiler, gently melt chocolate with the oil. (The chocolate also can be melted in a bowl in the microwave.) Dip cookies in chocolate; transfer to wire rack to cool. Transfer to wax paper; refrigerate to cool completely and set the chocolate.
Per serving: 204 calories, 14 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 21 mg cholesterol, 16 g carbohydrates, 3 g protein, 50 mg sodium, 2 g fiber.
— Joe Gray, Tribune Newspapers