Saturday, March 21, 2009

Sour Cream Cookies With a Pistachio Twist

My obsession with pistachios has taken another turn. It began simply with the humble nut, cracked open as a lovely, slightly salty, snack. Then it was the pistachio flavored puff pastry shaped into vol au vents, then pistachio cream layered on decadent chocolate cake. This time my craving it took the form of pistachio – sour cream cookies. These cookies are a riff on a particular sour cream cookie, which has always had a special place in my heart - and my stomach.

During my first restaurant job, I got into the (wildly popular) habit of bringing home-baked sweets to work on a regular basis. One particular day, I had a seriously dangerous excess of cashew – sour cream cookies. (Those who know me well know the truth: cookies are my weakness. It is a proven fact that I can…okay, have…alright, am…eating an entire batch of cookies as I write this.) So, that day, I brought those little temptresses to work.

At 10 a.m. one of my favorites chefs to work with at the restaurant, Chef L., gobbled up the first of my cashew – sour cream cookies with browned butter frosting. Well, let’s just say that, on that particular day no one else was made known of their existence. From then on, I managed to surprise Chef L. frequently with those special sweets.

So, when I got this latest craving, my thoughts immediately went to these addictive sour cream cookies. Creamy, soft and almost cakelike, my rift on the originals boast a pronounced pistachio flavor and a luscious pistachio browned-butter frosting.

Oh, oh... I may have just eaten the last one in the house.

Pistachio – Sour Cream Cookies
Makes about 4 dozen cookies

For the cookies:
½ c brown sugar
½ c white sugar
½ c butter, softened
¼ c pistachio paste
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla
2 ¼ c flour (bleached cake)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ c sour cream
½ c pistachios, chopped

For creamy browned butter-pistachio frosting:
5 Tbsp unsalted butter
3 c confectioners’ sugar, sifted
4 ½ Tbsp milk/cream
1 ½ tsp vanilla
1 tsp pistachio paste, optional

Preheat oven to 375˚ F.

Combine sugars and butter, beat until fluffy, scraping down sides often. Add the pistachio paste and beat until completely combined. Whisk together eggs and vanilla, adding in several additions; allowing each to fully incorporate before adding the next.

In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Reserve a bit of the flour mixture and toss with chopped pistachios, set aside.

Add dry ingredients alternating with sour cream to the butter-pistachio mixture, leaving the mixture streaky after each addition. Gently fold in nuts.

Drop by rounded tablespoons onto a parchment lined cookie sheet; bake 10 to 12 minutes until the edges are golden. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, make the frosting. Brown the butter over low heat in a saucepan. Remove from heat and whisk in milk and vanilla. Add a bit of confectioners’ sugar to make a paste then add in cup increments until fully combined. Fold pistachio paste in completely and adjust thickness by adding a bit more milk or cream.

Frost cooled cookies with creamy browned butter frosting and garnish with finely chopped pistachios.

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