Food Friday : Cranberry Pistachio Cookies

“Briiing, briiing” …That’s your telephone ringing. It’s your [insert unexpected guest here] calling to say they’ll be over in 15 minutes! You’ve just finished cleaning the house and everything looks great (right?!), but alas, there’s no time to whip over to the bakery to grab a treat to serve. Wait … you remember the roll of cookie dough you have in your freezer. By the time your company arrives at your door, you can be pulling a freshly baked batch of delicious cookies from your oven. Oh joy, oh bliss. You really are as great as people think you are!

That’s because you had the dough for these cookies tucked away in the freezer, and all you had to do was preheat your oven to 375 degrees F, slice the roll of dough into 1/4 inch (or so) pieces. Arrange them on a parchment-paper lined (or ungreased) cookie sheet and pop them in the oven.

For today’s batch, I made them in my toaster-oven, therefore avoiding the cost of heating up the big oven. We didn’t actually have any company coming over, but I did have a hungry guy ready to taste-test them immediately after they came out of the oven. Verdict : “mmm, very good. I’ll have another, thanks.”

I’ve been making these for years, using a yellowed clipping from the newspaper. Aside from passing this recipe on to you, it was high time I transferred it to the computer, so I can retire that stained and torn old piece of paper!

By the way, before I made these I didn’t realize you could buy pistachios without their shells with no salt but I found them in a shop that sells nuts and seeds for baking/cooking. But if you can’t find them, any nut can be substituted. In fact the cranberries can also be replaced with any dried fruit. I’ve made them with almonds and dried cherries and they were great.

How to make cranberry pistachio cookies:
Makes around 90 small cookies.

2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened (ie: at room temperature). If using salted butter, reduce salt addition to 1/8 tsp.
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup chopped pistachio nuts
3/4 cup dried cranberries
(Or whatever nuts and dried fruit combination you prefer.)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl cream butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla thoroughly (I used my hand-mixer). Add dry ingredients gradually, mixing until smooth. Stir in nuts and cranberries.

If you want to bake these immediately then just drop them by the teaspoon onto the baking sheet. Bake for 9 to 10 minutes.

These don’t spread much so, while they shouldn’t be touching, you don’t need to leave a lot of room between each cookie.

Or, if you want to store some or all of the dough either in the refrigerator to use in the near future or in the freezer to use at a later date, do the following: Tear a piece of plastic wrap or waxed paper and lay it on your working surface. Drop a dallop of dough (about a cup or so), about one third of the way along the paper. Roll the end of the paper over and mold a log shape. Roll the whole thing up, and then twist your ends. Notice how your hands never have to touch the dough, and the twisting of the ends really shapes your log of dough.

Store in the freezer. When ready to bake, there’s no need to defrost. Just cut off as much as you want into slices and bake for 10 to 11 minutes. The finished cookies are just under 2 inches wide.

To give you a feel for scale, the roll of dough in the picture made 16 cookies. The white plate it is on is a regular size dinner plate.