One of the best parts of the holidays for me (as you might imagine) are the cookies. I love to make them, give them, exchange them, receive them. Over the years, I’ve narrowed my personal baking selection down to a handful of exceptional, easy to make recipes. These are cookies that turn out great every time and each is a showstopper in terms of taste, texture, and beauty. Each also stands up to freezing, shipping and storing.
For the next week, I’ll share a cookie recipe every day so that by Sunday you’ll have everything you need to have the most delicious cookie tray ever.
Cherry Pistachio Mexican Wedding Cakes
This recipe is adapted from Epicurious. I’ve been making these every year since I saw them in the December 2006 Bon Appetit. They are light, delicious, and wonderful to give. Make sure your butter is soft but not warm, and do sift your flours. You don’t want anything to weigh these babies down. Also, note, if you ever wondered what making cookies was like in the olden times, this is the recipe to work with: Mixing in the 5 cups of flour by hand is a bit of work, but like with scones and shortbread, the warmth of your hands does something magical to the dough. Just go slowly and be patient, the results are well worth it. PS, this is why you should use a very large bowl.
I use a rectangular 1 Tablespoon measure when forming the cookies, the results are more consistent. The original recipe says it yields 80 cookies. I reliably get about 60.
2 c (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 c powdered sugar plus more for coating
2 Tbs vanilla extract
1 tsp salt
1 c shelled unsalted natural pistachios (about 4 ounces), chopped (I use Trader Joe’s dry roasted, unsalted pistachios)
1 c dried tart cherries or dried cranberries (again, Trader Joe’s)
3 1/3 c sifted cake flour
1 2/3 c sifted all purpose flour
Preheat oven to 350°F. Arrange racks on the top and middle of the oven. Line two large baking sheets with Silpat or parchment. Set aside.
Beat butter and 1 cup powdered sugar in large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla and salt, then pistachios and cherries. Dump in the flours and, using your hands, carefully work the flour into the butter mixture. Be gentle, you don’t want to overmix the dough.
Using a rectangular 1 Tbs measure (or a generous round tablespoon), scoop dough and then roll in your hands into rough football-shaped ovals. Place on prepared sheets, spacing 1 inch apart. Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until bottoms just begin to color, about 16 minutes. Cool cookies on sheets 10 minutes before coating.
Pour generous amount of powdered sugar into medium bowl. Working with 5 or 6 warm cookies at a time, add cookies to bowl of sugar; gently turn to coat thickly. Transfer cookies to rack to cool completely.
Can be made 4 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature. (I store mine in single layers in 1 Gallon Ziploc bags.)