Chocolate Pistachio Sables

I could try to write a long post here:

  • about how my sister-in-law introduced me to the wonder of a versatile cookie that is a sable last Christmas, a tender French sugar cookie that can be endlessly varied and which never wears out its welcome-

Chocolate Pistachio Sables (6 of 6)

  • about how I finally managed to make beautifully circular roll cookies rather than flattened tires (wrap your cookie roll tightly in parchment, cut the inner tube of a paper towel roll, slide your misshapen cylinder inside and roll it to cookie perfection and chill on a flat surface in the freezer, turning a bit in the first half hour or so to make sure it sets)-

Chocolate Pistachio Sables (2 of 6)

  • about how these cookies are beautiful and festive all on their own–studded with glistening chocolate and green pistachios–without need of mixing up seven shades of frosting nor a steady decorative hand-

Chocolate Pistachio Sables (3 of 6)

Chocolate Pistachio Sables (4 of 6)

but we know I’m not so diligent about my posting these days.  I trust you prefer a slightly abbreviated post now to a mid-January missive, so it’s time to get to the point and get you the recipe (from this month’s Bon Appetit).    Absolutely a must make.

Chocolate Pistachio Sables (5 of 6)

Chocolate Pistachio Sables
Recipe Type: cookies
Author: Adapted from [url href=”http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/chocolate-pistachio-sables”%5DBon Appetit[/url]
Ingredients
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1¼ cups (2½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1¼ cups (lightly packed) light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg white
  • 5 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup unsalted, shelled raw pistachios, coarsely chopped
  • Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon salt).
Instructions
  1. Whisk flour, cocoa powder, kosher salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl.
  2. Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat butter, brown sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Reduce speed to low and gradually add dry ingredients; mix just to combine, then mix in the egg white. Fold in chocolate pieces and pistachios. (While you want these to be roughly chopped, don’t worry if you have a few larger chunks. When you slice the cookies you’ll cut through any too-large pieces of chocolate or nut).
  3. Divide dough into 4 pieces. Roll each piece into an 8”-long log about 1½” in diameter, pushing dough together if it feels crumbly. Wrap tightly in parchment paper and chill until firm, at least 4 hours. (The colder your dough, the easier it will be to slice.) As I noted above, roll inside a paper towel tube to get a uniform shape, and chill immediately.
  4. Place racks in lower and upper thirds of oven; preheat to 350°F. Working with 1 log of dough at a time and using a serrated knife and a sawing motion, cut logs into ¼”-thick rounds and transfer to 2 parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing ½” apart. Be extra careful to keep up the sawing motion near the base of the cookie log as it otherwise might tend to break off with an uneven rough finish.
  5. Sprinkle cookies with sea salt and bake, rotating baking sheets halfway through, until set around edges and centers look dry, 10–12 minutes. Transfer to wire racks and let cool.
Notes
Per Bon Appetit, the dough can be made 1 month ahead; freeze instead of chilling. Slice frozen logs into rounds just before baking.

 

Lebkuchen (Austrian Gingerbread Cookies)

Sad to say, this blog has a regrettable dearth of Christmas cookies.  (Or cookies in general).  I hope this post can help make amends.  With marmalade (if like me you have too much), brown sugar, molasses, a riot of spices, plenty of eggs, and of course candied ginger, these cookies are full of flavor and well worthy of the holiday season.

Christmas Lebkuchen (8 of 8)

I’ve loved this slightly chewy, soft gingerbread cookie (in contrast to the crisp, snappy variety) since enjoying is as often as I could in the Czech Republic.  Besides beautifully decorated showpieces, every grocery store stocked multiple varieties single serving cakes filled with your selection of jam and glazed in a thin veneer of chocolate.  Years later, I even imposed upon  my friend Jennifer to bring me back some from her annual trip to Austria, along with marzipan and plum paste.  (That’s sort of a lot, isn’t it?)

Christmas Lebkuchen (1 of 8)

These cookies are so easy to make–it’s whirred up in the food processor and frozen for at least four hours to stiffen it up a little.    I left mine in the freezer a full twenty four hours, and you can see how soft and viscous it is even after that–so don’t skip that step or you may turn an easy cookie making venture into a frustrating one.

Christmas Lebkuchen (3 of 8)

Scooping out with a cookie scoop is definitely helpful (see that part about being sticky and viscous above), but the good news is even as imperfect as my scoops started looking, they all baked up into lovely rounds.  Even my younger son enjoyed helping–that’s his cute little hand.

Christmas Lebkuchen (2 of 8)

Christmas Lebkuchen (4 of 8)

The frosting is as simple as can be–sugar held together by milk and a bit of butter.  It’s nothing but pure saccharine, which actually is the perfect icing for such complex and rich cookies.  Everyone I shared these cookies with gave them rave reviews, and I hope you enjoy them as much as we all did!

Christmas Lebkuchen (6 of 8)

Lebkuchen (Central European Gingerbread Cookies)

Ingredients
  • Cookies
  • 1 1/2 cups blanched whole almonds
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sweet orange marmalade
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped candied ginger (1 ounce)
  • 1/4 cup unsulfured molasses
  • 5 large eggs
  • Icing
  • 3 cups plus 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Spread the almonds on a rimmed baking sheet and toast for about 10 minutes, or toast, stirring frequently in a hot dry skillet for about 5 minutes, until fragrant and lightly golden. Remove to a plate to stop the cooking, and let cool completely.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ground ginger, cloves, allspice, salt and nutmeg.
  3. In a food processor, pulse the cooled almonds until coarsely chopped. Add the brown sugar and pulse until incorporated. Add the marmalade, candied ginger and molasses and pulse until the mixture is well blended and the nuts are finely chopped. Add the eggs all at once and pulse until just incorporated. Add the dry ingredients and pulse until incorporated and the batter is uniform in color.
  4. Scrape the soft batter into a bowl, cover and freeze until very firm, at least 4 hours.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350° and line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  6. Using a 2-tablespoon ice cream scoop, scoop 8 level mounds onto each baking sheet, about 3 inches apart. Freeze the remaining batter between batches.
  7. Bake the cookies in the upper and lower thirds of the oven for about 20 minutes, until risen and slightly firm; shift the pans from top to bottom and front to back halfway through. Transfer the sheets to racks and let the cookies and pans cool completely. Repeat with the remaining batter.
  8. In a bowl, whisk the confectioners’ sugar with the milk and butter. The butter will eventually incorporate. Spread the cookies with icing (it’s easiest to pick each cookie up and frost it rather than frost them on a plate) and let dry completely before serving or wrapping.
Notes

The cookies can be stored between sheets of wax paper in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Christmas Lebkuchen (7 of 8)

Christmas Cookies-A Recap

That’s it. Nothing too out of the ordinary.  I decided to make some Christmas cookies when I realized I otherwise wasn’t going to get through the Modern Baker Challenge chapter on cookies, and that this was the perfect motivation.

Then, weeks passed and I realized that it’s was going to be really hard to make the more challenging raspberry sandwiches as opposed to making the very simple sugar cookies. I also had a hard time imagining the more fancy cookies in the shapes of dancing reindeer and glitter. Williams Sonoma have some great cookie cutters and stamps and rollers that you can roll into the dough after you cut the shape. Christmas trees, ornaments, and snowflakes. Gotta love em. If anyone is inspired by these amazing cookies (hmph) then Sara’s favorite King Arthur Flour also has a great selection available for the future holidays. Every holiday seems to have a cookie shape now. Take your pick.

Image

I would say the hardest part of making these cookies was the icing. I really thought that I could ice them just like the box picture. Not so. Not so. The more fun I had rolling stars and bells in the cookies, the more I was cursing under my breath to get the icing in the right lines. The easiest ended up being the snowflakes with the straight lines believe it or not. Squiggly lines are so easy to mess up if they aren’t symmetrical and straight lines are easy when there is a indentation to follow.

Either way the best part of the entire project was bagging them in the clear baggies. I got to put these really cute gift tags on all of them (for my friends in NYC) and they covered up the flaw here or there. Also a handful of M and M’s at the bottom of the bag doesn’t make anyone upset so why not?

Maybe next year, I’ll graduate up to a Modern Baker cookie. 😉

Image

ImageImage

Image

Recipes

Sugar Cookies:

Below is the recipe that I got right from the William Sonoma website! I also bought the food dye from William Sonoma. A couple people have asked what type of dye I used. At William Sonoma it’s called “Food Paste-Vivid Color.” Before I refrigerated the dough, I divided it into three parts and re-blended the dough with the color (only about 2-3 drops) in the mixer. The color turned out fantastic and I’m excited to use them again.

16 Tbs. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room
temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
1 piece vanilla bean, about 2 inches long, or
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
Colored sugars and decorating pens

Directions:
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition. Cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and, using a small, sharp knife, scrape the seeds into the butter mixture. If using vanilla extract, add it now. Mix well.

In a sifter, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Sift the flour mixture directly onto the butter mixture. Reduce the speed to low and beat until well mixed.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface and divide into 4 equal portions. Shape each portion into a ball, then flatten the balls into disks. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. (The dough can be prepared up to 3 days ahead.) Let it soften slightly at room temperature before continuing.

Position a rack in the upper third of an oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter 2 large baking sheets.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out a dough disk 1/4 inch thick. Using cookie cutters, cut out desired shapes. Transfer the cutouts to the prepared baking sheets. Gather up and reroll the scraps and cut out more cookies. Repeat with the remaining dough disks.

Bake until the cookies are golden on the edges, about 8 minutes. Transfer the cookies to wire racks and let cool completely. Decorate the cookies as desired with colored sugars and decorating pens. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.
Makes 24 to 30 cookies, depending on cutter size.

Royal Icing:

So I have been searching for the exact recipe I used for my royal icing. Sad to say, I can’t find the exact one.

Here is a variation:

1lb of confectioners sugar
2 egg whites
Lemon juice from one lemon

Mix it up and taste. It’s fabulous……
If it’s too runny just add more sugar until it’s stiff. It’s then easy to add to the frosting bags. I used the smallest tip possible for the lines on my stars but then my arms got tired and when I went to my trees and ornaments, I mixed things up in order to finish quicker!