Saturday, January 5, 2013

Amy's Shortbread Cookies

The days leading up to the holidays were so hectic this year that I was not able to make gifts of cookies for all of my neighbors before I traveled back to the midwest to visit family and friends.  Things happen for a reason and there is a silver lining in every cloud or so some say.  Fortunately for my neighbors I have decided that the time has come for me to start a new tradition, that of delivering cookies to celebrate the new year.  This new tradition will serve to minimize the guilt of not being organized for the holidays.

Everyone, well almost everyone, gets cookies for Christmas. But how many people do you know getting cookies for the new year? Inspired by all of the snow on the ground here on the east coast I thought the perfect 'new year' cookie to make would be the white chocolate dipped pistachio shortbread cookies sprinkled with even more pistachios, otherwise known as Amy's Shortbread Cookies.

The recipe calls for room temperature unsalted butter.  I like to take my butter out of the refrigerator the night before I am going to bake as then I know it will be room temperature perfect.  One of the many things learned from watching Ina Garten on television.

Yes, I know the cost of pistachios are a little high these days, but Trader Joe's always seems to make these nuts affordable.  The recipe calls for a cup of pistachios.  For the cookie dough you will want to finely chop or grind 1/2 cup of the pistachios in a food processor to make it easier to roll out the dough, saving the other 1/2 cup for decorating the tops of the cookies.

This recipe requires sifting the flour and salt.  Because I use Kosher salt in this recipe I just sift the flour.     Don't skip the sifting.  If my sifter isn't readily available, I often use a fine strainer to sift my flour.

The dough comes together really nicely.  Of the many things that I love about making this cookie is that it doesn't require the added step of chilling the dough!  I generally roll my cookies out to a 1/4 inch as I like a thicker cookie and one that will stand up well to dipping in chocolate.
Over the years I have collected a variety of new and antique cookie cutters, tending to use the antique ones more often.  For this recipe I used one of my antique cookie cutters with a crimped edge and shaped somewhat like a leaf. There is something about a crimped edge cookie that gives it a bakery perfect look.  I discovered over the holidays that SurLaTable makes a graduated set of crimped edge cookie cutters that almost replicate my antique ones.  Thought I would share this, just in case this recipe caused you to go on the hunt for a crimped edge cookie cutter.  For those of you not as obsessive as I am when making someone's recipe for the first time, I envy you.

I like to use the Ghiradelli White Chocolate Candy Making and and Dipping Bar (2.5 lbs). It is sold at Sam's Club during the holidays, but you can always find it on Amazon.  There is enough chocolate in this bar for at least four or five batches of Amy's Shortbread Cookies.  And trust me, once you make the first batch of these cookies you will become addicted to them using up the chocolate in no time at all.  But feel free to use any white chocolate you have had success using.  I would just encourage you to not use the Almond Bark that they sell in the grocery stores for this recipe.

If you let the cookies cool completely before dipping them you will minimize any breakage when dipping. They cool quickly, but during cooler weather I will often put the tray of cookies out on the back porch to speed the cooling up a little.

Each time I make these cookies I dip them a little differently.  Sometimes I dip only half of the cookie and other times I dip the entire cookie in the melted chocolate. I actually like tasting the chocolate with every bite of the cookie so they are usually covered in white chocolate.  The combination of the shortbread, the saltiness of the pistachios, and the decadence of the white chocolate make these cookies simply divine.

The chocolate dries pretty quickly on the cookie so I usually dip about 4 or 5 cookies at a time and then immediately sprinkle on the chopped pistachios to ensure they adhere to the chocolate.  You can sprinkle pistachios over the entire cookie or over just part of the cookie, the possibilities for finishing these cookies are endless!

Sometimes I arrange my cookies on a platter, sometimes I put them in a cellophane bag tied with a beautiful ribbon, and then sometimes I layer them in boxes.  The Martha Stewart cookie boxes sold at Michaels are great and relatively inexpensive presentation containers.  For the size cookie I make, this box holds a perfect dozen cookies.  However you choose to present these cookies to your family and friends will really not matter.  Because once they see and taste them, well let's just say you will forever be remembered.

Amy's Shortbread Cookies 
Makes about 2 -3 dozen cookies depending on the size and shape of the cookie cutter.

2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup confectionary sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1/2 cup of finely chopped and/or ground pistachios (for the cookie dough)
1/2 cup of coarsely chopped pistachios (for the top of the cookie)
6 to 8 ounces of white chocolate chopped and melted (Note: Recommend either Ghiradelli White Chocolate Melting Disks or the white chocolate disks available from Graham's Chocolate in Geneva, IL)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F).
2. Finely chop or grind 1/2 cup of pistachios and set aside.
3. Sift the flour.  Place the flour and salt in a bowl and set aside.
4. Place butter and confectionary sugar in a mixer.  Using a paddle attachment, mix until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
5.  Add vanilla and mix in.
6.  Add flour/salt mixture and finely chopped/ground pistachios.  Combine until dough sticks together.
7. Divide dough in half.  On a floured surface roll out dough to the thickness desired. My preference is 1/4 inch.  Using a cookie cutter of choice, cut out and place cookies onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
8. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned on the bottom.  If making smaller sized cookies, adjust the time downward.
9.  Let cookies cool.
10.  Chop and melt white chocolate on top of a double boiler.
11. Coarsely chop 1/2 cup of pistachios. Put in bowl and set aside.
12.  Dip cooled cookies into chocolate or spoon melted chocolate over the cookies. Place chocolate covered/dipped cookies on a sheet of parchment paper.  Sprinkle with chopped pistachios before chocolate hardens.
13.  Allow chocolate to completely set before removing from parchment paper to serve or package. 
14. Store cookies in a tightly sealed container.

Well it's time for me to walk across the snow and through the opening in the stone fence to deliver the new year's gift of cookies to my neighbors.  I must admit something. There really doesn't need to be a holiday or special occasion to make these cookies as they will make any occasion special.  
Every time I make these cookies I am thankful that Amy, a relative of my best friend Donna, shared this recipe with us years ago. In all of cookie recipes that I have read or found over the years I have never found a version even close to this one.  This is a cookie recipe I treasure.  I hope you will too.

1 comment:

  1. I have made these Amy Shortbread cookies many of times and everyone LOVES them! They are now my stable fall cookie to make! :) thank you for sharing a delicious recipe