Pistachio – what an odd name for a crazy little nut. According to Wikipedia, the pistachio is a member of the cashew family originating from Central Asia and the Middle East.
Pistachios are a nutritionally dense food. They have quite a few amazing health benefits. And are an excellent source of good fat, fiber, antioxidants, nutrients, and protein. Check out this article for 12 Health Benefits of Pistachios.
Pistachios have long been a favorite of mine. One of the ways I like to eat pistachios is in gelato. Italian pistachio gelato is so delicious. I have my favorite gelato stores in Italy – depending on what city we are in – and always order the pistachio flavor. In fact, I rate the gelato stores by their pistachio flavor.
First, if they don’t have pistachio, we don’t even stop. Second, I like to see little chunks of pistachios in the gelato. However, if it is creamy it can still be a great flavor so that factor alone doesn’t rule out the store’s ranking in my book. Third, color is important. If the gelato is too pale green it looks like mint to me, or if it’s too green, I suspect added food coloring of some sort. So you can see, I’m pretty particular when it comes to my preferences of pistachio gelato.
A friend introduced me to this gelato (that can be purchased at the local grocery store) and I just happened to have pistachio cookies to add. The pairing was fabulous!
Pictures don’t do this gelato justice. It had chunks of pistachio in it – the color was a good pistachio green. It was marvelous!
Another food I like with pistachios is mortadella. It is hard to find in the US – most mortadellas are plain or have peppercorns throughout. Finding a deli that has mortadella with pistachios is easy to find in Italy. And I order it whenever we are buying a panini. We have several five euro panini shops in Florence where I can get my fill of mortadella with pistachios. I love those shops because you give them a rough idea of what you want in your panini and then say “and whatever else you think would be good” and they have creative license to jazz it up. I’ve never been disappointed.
Here’s an excerpt about the panini shop from our trip in October:
These are the men who made our panini at Antiqua Vinalo. The staff is so much fun to watch and interact with. We grab paninis here each time we visit Florence. They are five euro for a large square sandwich with anything you want on it. And you can just let them make the choices for you, which we’ve done many times.
This is just half the panini.
If you’d like to read the full blog on this day’s adventure in Florence, click here: Florence Day 2 – We Get Around.
Of course, just grabbing a handful of pistachio nuts (raw or salted) is always good for a quick snack. And folded into cookies, now you’re talking! This cookie recipe is rich in flavors and allows the major ingredients to shine. Not only do the pistachios make a statement, but the butter and cream also are identifiable and acknowledged as well. While the cookies possess a splendid flavor, the individual ingredients are not overpowering. They marry nicely.
Ready to try them?
Grinding pistachios into a “meal” lowers the amount of flour needed.
Roll dough into a log and refrigerate overnight. Patience, patience, patience. Not my strong suit. Bake the next day.
Cover log with egg wash and more pistachios before baking. I’m in heaven!
Slice log into disks. Keep them small because they do expand while baking.
Oh yum! The recipe makes 24 generous sized cookies.
- 1/2 cup butter
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1 unbeaten egg yolk (save the egg white)
- 2 Tablespoons heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup pistachios, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup sugar*
- 1/2 cup pistachios, finely chopped
- Combine butter and sugar. (use a hand or stand mixer for best results. I used a food processor and it did not combine all ingredients evenly. I had to mix cookie dough manually before forming into the log.)
- Add the egg yolk, heavy cream, and vanilla. Beat well.
- Mix in flour, 1/2 cup chopped pistachios, baking powder, and salt. Mix thoroughly.
- Shape into a log (approximately 12-14 inches long). Chill overnight.
- The next day, pre-heat oven to 400°F.
- Combine 1/4 cup sugar with 1/2 cup finely chopped pistachios. (I omitted the sugar.) Lightly beat the saved egg white and brush onto rolled dough. Roll in sugar-nut mixture until coated. You may want to slightly press in the nuts.
- Cut into 1/4 inch slices. Be sure to space out the cookies on the baking sheet as they do expand.
- Bake for 7-10 minutes.
- *I did not use the 1/4 cup sugar with the pistachios to top the cookie log. I actually forgot and just used the finely chopped pistachios. I think the cookies came out great without adding more sugar. If you a sweeter zing - then you may want to add sugar to the pistachio topping.