Important Note: I’m seeing some confusion in the comments section – You do not need pistachio paste to make this recipe – the original recipe (listed below) calls for whole pistachios. I used the paste because I had it on hand.
So we’re in week 2 of the Dolce Italiano contest. Here are the recipes from the past week:
- Mosaic Biscotti, Sara’s Ms Adventures in Italy (here, baby!)
- Chocolate Kisses, Ilva’s Lucullian Delights
- Ricotta Pound Cake, Michelle at Bleeding Espresso!
- Chestnut Brownies, Shelley’s At Home in Rome
- Chocolate Salami at Jenn’s the Leftover Queen
If you haven’t commented on the other posts, make sure you do by Friday, December 7th.
First a bit of housekeeping: my Italy Gift Guide contest is over – comment #9 “k” – contact me with your address so I can send you your Illy coffee tin! Thanks for all the input. Also, thank you for your votes on my “Italian Goodies” poll – it was very helpful – who knew tuna was so popular? I’m still shopping, so feel free to add your say.
This second recipe post from Dolce Italiano has a bit of a turbulent history. First I was making a tart for you. Then I made yummy zucchini bread. I even had the pictures ready. And then, Saturday happened.
This past weekend the Artigiano in Fiera opened here in Milan that I mentioned on my December Events in Milan post. I love this fair, even though it’s full of people and chaos – I went early Saturday morning exactly for this reason, and that I knew that the vendors would be a bit fresher on the first day. I rabidly started buying gifts and items for my Menu for Hope basket, and in about two hours, I was carrying about 15 kilos of goods and an empty wallet.
But before I left that day, I carried something with me that was not for sale anywhere in the fair. I stopped to talk to one of my favorite vendors who sells pistachio cream from Bronte. I mentioned how this past year his pistachio cream had become quite popular and how even a certain cookbook author turned it into ice cream.
He seemed surprised and said, “Wait a moment,” and disappeared into the back of the booth.
He reappeared a few minutes later with a gelato cup full of a dark green substance. “Here’s what we use for our gelato base – just Bronte pistachios and a little oil. Take it with you.”
That’s when I knew I needed to make Gina’s Sicilian Pistachio Bars from Dolce Italiano. Gina’s probably wondering when I’m going to stop messing with her recipes, but in an expat kitchen, you have to roll with the situation.
My situation at 8 am on Sunday morning was that I didn’t have 1 1/4 cups of white sugar. I had one. I added some brown cane sugar to make up the difference, but I had no sugar to sprinkle on top. And since I had my pure pistachios already ground up, I also had no pistachios to sprinkle on top.
No pistachios, no sugar. That’s a pretty plain bar.
Then I remembered how when I was in Paris with my mom, I talked about how much I missed her frosted sugar cookies – when I was at university, I would beg for the occasional batch via care package. We bought me some mini cookie cutters, and I thought they would be the perfect size for this dough.
Oh, and some chocolate. Must have chocolate.
Sicilian Pistachio Cookies from Dolce Italiano
adapted from Gina DePalma’s Dolce Italiano. Below are the original ingredients as it appears in the cookbook. Immediately following the ingredients, I included my notes on how I modified the recipe. Note: You do not need pistachio paste to do this recipe!
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 t. kosher salt
1 c. shelled, whole (unsalted) Sicilian pistachios
1 c. (2 sticks/8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 c. plus 2 t. granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 t. pure vanilla extract
1 t. amaretto or 1/2 t. pure almond extract
Freshly grated zest of 1 lemon
Sara’s add: Chocolate for melting and dipping (dark or semisweet)
The original recipe calls for you to cool the cooked dough and then slice in to bars or squares. If following my method to make cut-outs, make sure you have a very even work surface, and good pot holders (I love my silicon ones) since I cut the shapes on the cooked dough while it was still hot. The original recipe also calls for using 1/2 of the pistachios in the dough, and the other half sprinkled on top before baking.
- Preheat oven to 325F (160C). Line a cookie sheet/jelly roll pan with parchment paper and grease the paper. Sift flour and salt. Grind 1/2 of the pistachios finely and add them to the flour mixture. Set aside.
- Cream the butter with the sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs in one at a time, then the vanilla, amaretto/almond, and lemon zest.
- Add the flour slowly and mix well. Turn out the dough onto the pan and spread (with a normal or offset spatula) so that it’s evenly distributed. Sprinkle the remaining pistachios and sugar on the dough.
- Bake for 35-45 minutes (note: keep a close eye on them as mine finished before the time). After taking out the tray, allow to cool slightly and ready your cookie cutters. Use gloves and pot holders to protect yourself. Press down with the cookie cutters and give it a little wiggle at the bottom to separate it from the other dough. Transfer to a wire rack or parchment paper to cool – push cookie gently out of cutter.
- Allow cookies to cool completely. In a bain marie or double boiler, melt chocolate until smooth. Dip half of each cookie in the chocolate, and in sprinkles if desired and set to cool.
Be careful not to get overzealous with the sprinkles – I first dipped them directly into the bowl of sprinkles after the chocolate and they came out looking like they were affected by SSD – Sudden Sprinkle Death. I’m sure Robyn could think of a whole new doodle character based on this picture. After, I held the freshly-dipped cookie over the bowl and sprinkled onto the cookie and this worked much better.
I want to submit these cookies to my friend Susan at Food Blogga’s Eat Christmas Cookies party – I tried to suggest a cookie swap at work recently and they didn’t seem very excited about having to do something as well, so this virtual swap may be my only cookie party this year. I hope you guys enjoy them!
Comment to be entered into the contest and check Ilva at Lucullian Delights tomorrow for another great recipe!