Pistachios need a new hype man.
They are amazing, so why does everything that calls itself pistachio taste like almonds?! Most ice cream shops in America sell ice cream that calls itself pistachio but is actually almond, tinted green, with a handful of pistachios mixed in. You know the stuff! It has very little to do with what is awesome about pistachios. When we were in Paris and ate the pistachio gelato at Grom, I understood what pistachio ice cream could be and felt sad for all of that other, lesser ice cream.
It isn’t just ice cream. Take these cookies, which are fantastic, but are definitely not pistachio. They are called Pistachio Cookies, for reasons I cannot imagine. The cookies contain a pound of almond paste and 1 1/2 tablespoons (?!?!) of something called pistachio paste. Here is the thing: pistachio paste tastes like almonds. Sure, pistachios are the first ingredient on the can, but the last ingredient is natural flavors. Guess what the natural flavor is? Almond!
I know, I know— I can buy that imported pistachio cream from Italy and it is great. I am sure you will tell me I can also make my own pistachio paste. But 10 days into cookies, making pistachio paste is not something I want to be doing. Hell, I’d even settle for some pistachio extract. Something? Anything!
Pistachio people, if you are listening, please help.
But I guess all of that is beside the point. Despite my initial disappointment in these cookies, I love them for what they were—Almond Cookies. Perfectly lovely almond cookies that sort of remind me of the almond macaroons from Mike’s Pastry in Boston. They are especially awesome when you make them tiny, like I did.You can pile them in bowls for a little sweet treat when you need one.
I made these with the added 1 1/2 tablespoons of pistachio paste, but please don’t bother? Feel free to add a couple of drops of food coloring if you want these green.
Almond Cookies (formerly Pistachio Cookies, recipe by Fortunato Nicotra via One Sweet Cookie by Tracey Zabar)
- 1 pound almond paste
- 1 1/2 tablespoons pistachio paste (optional!!!)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large egg whites (if the dough seems too stiff, you can add another egg white- depends on your almond paste)
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two half-sheet pans with parchment paper.
In a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the almond paste, pistachio paste, and sugar together until smooth. Slowly add in the egg whites and mix until fully incorporated.
Fill a disposable pastry bag with the cookie dough , cut a small tip off of the bottom of the bag (I used a star tip to get the pretty design). Pipe the mixture into cookies that are a little smaller than a hershey’s Kiss. Bake the cookies for 7-10 minutes. Remove the pans, and let the cookies cool on wire racks. When completely cool, dust the cookies with confectioner’s sugar.
Previously, on THE 12 DAYS OF COOKIES
Day 1: Maple Pecan Cookies
Day 2: Fig and Date Swirls
Day 3: Evergreen Shortbread
Day 4: Rugelach
Day 5: Gooey Butter Cookies
Day 6: Poppy Seed-Honey Cookies
Day 7: Cherry, Pistachio, Oatmeal Cookies
Day 8: Sticky Pecan Bites
Day 9: Jam Thimbles
December 14th, 2011 at 7:33 am
so pretty! do you think this dough would work with a cookie press instead of a pastry bag?
December 14th, 2011 at 7:46 am
Hi Erin, I’m not sure, I’ve never used a cookie press. If you try, let us know!
December 14th, 2011 at 7:58 am
Mike’s Pastry is the worst pastry shop in town. No local would ever set foot in there. Just FYI
December 14th, 2011 at 8:01 am
when i was in culinary school, we were each allowed to make whatever ice cream flavor we wanted. the guy next to me chose salted pistachio. we had all finished our ice creams and he was still standing at the sink, removing the skins from each nut, so that they didn’t break off and create a woody texture. every time i think of making something pistachio-based, i think of that – maybe others do, too. i love that last picture.
December 14th, 2011 at 8:08 am
Ian- Thanks for pointing out how stupid I am!
Brooke- Yeah, that seems like enough to turn anyone off of working with pistachios. : )
December 14th, 2011 at 9:34 am
I’m so glad you said the pistachio paste is optional. Other than that, these cookies look lovely and I can imagine they taste that way too. What a great addition to the holiday table! YUM.
Jay @ LocalFood.me says:
December 14th, 2011 at 10:21 am
So basic, yet so different. I never thought to have the entire base of the cookie be almonds. I’ll have to give this a shot. Thanks for sharing!
Tracey Zabar says:
December 14th, 2011 at 10:52 am
Hey, Tim, Come to New York and I’ll make pistachio cake with you. This cake makes people
happy. It’s not too almond-y.
And thank you for using two of the recipes (days 7 & 10) from One Sweet Cookie. I
love you, man. Tracey Zabar.
December 14th, 2011 at 10:57 am
Thanks, Tracey. I am going to take you up on that offer. I really like the book, thanks for it! And here’s to a future of pistachio flavored treats! ; )
December 14th, 2011 at 11:32 am
I am loving all these cookies, and anyone who uses “pistachio” and “hype-man” is someone after my own heart.
Having never heard of pistachio paste, I’m glad it’s optional for these pretty cookies. Your explanation of the almond + green food colouring thing does explain a LOT though. Pistachios have a beautiful, delicate flavour – a shame it’s so often badly exploited!
December 14th, 2011 at 12:11 pm
If you’re ever in Princeton, New Jersey, and the planets are aligned, the Bent Spoon (a local artisan ice cream shop in town) makes the best pistachio ice cream outside of Sicily (which admittedly, I have not tried–but I’ve been to other parts of Italy where the pistachio gelato still disappoints).
The Bent Spoon does not always have pistachio ice cream (they’ve told me that the cream and pistachio paste requires a 3-day steep in the fridge before churning), but it’s very pistachio-y and not at all almond extract-y, which I hate and can detect its fake flowerey smell in even small amounts.
December 14th, 2011 at 1:57 pm
Erin, if it’s soft enough to pipe it’s probably fine in a press – cookie presses put out a lot of force!
Tim, I’m super excited about this recipe. It’s going on our holiday cookie list!
December 14th, 2011 at 2:03 pm
These remind me of almond cloud cookies, which taste amazing with just the teensiest bit of cayenne mixed in (for heat to cut the sweet) and pine nuts nestled into the crevices before baking. Yum!
Mary Anne says:
December 14th, 2011 at 3:49 pm
Hey Ian – You might want to get a life. FYI
Hey Tim! These look and sound soooooo good. You’ve done it again. I LOVE the last photo with the powdered sugar stripe — look at you turning into a total food stylist!! By the way, the first two pictures of this post (after the title pic) don’t show up for me. They have error messages. Not sure if anyone else is having that problem.
December 14th, 2011 at 3:55 pm
Sweet Mary Anne- thank you! Hmmm. I wonder what is happening with those photos. I just checked another computer and it is fine. Sorry! I’ll try reloading the photos and see if that helps.
December 14th, 2011 at 3:57 pm
ML- that ice cream sounds good. I now hope to find myself in Princeton at the right day and time. Thanks!
Mary Anne says:
December 14th, 2011 at 4:07 pm
the Bent Spoon?!?? Only a fool would go to the Bent Spoon. FYI
Mary Anne says:
December 14th, 2011 at 4:09 pm
(And in case anyone is wondering, that’s a JOKE!)
December 14th, 2011 at 4:47 pm
I totally agree with you over the pistachio thing. I wouldn’t have a clue where to get hold of pistachio paste and was wondering if almond paste is just a different way of saying marzipan or is it looser in consistency?
Love the choice of cookie shape xx
December 14th, 2011 at 5:01 pm
Hi Laura, Almond paste is not marzipan. Almond paste is less sweet and has more almonds in it. It is used as a filling or in recipes like this one. Check baking supply stores. In the US, both are available at grocery stores.
la domestique says:
December 14th, 2011 at 6:19 pm
I love the shape of these cookies! So festive!
December 15th, 2011 at 5:01 pm
Thanks Tim, will check it out. sounds much nicer than marzipan!
December 16th, 2011 at 4:52 pm
Tim, another great cookie recipe! Just came back to the site to print it out again (the gremlins must have taken the first copy) & saw the post about Mike’s Pastry…Well, I’m a local & I don’t know what Ian is talking about. The line at Mike’s is usually out the door…one of our favorite places to stop after dinner in the North End…
C&C Cakery says:
January 9th, 2012 at 10:37 pm
I never thought about it, but all that pistachio ice cream I’ve sampled totally does taste like almond. I feel cheated! Can’t wait to try these cookies and make up for lost time :)
Susan In L.A. says:
January 16th, 2012 at 11:40 am
Haagen-Dazs Pistachio ice cream is the most pistachio-flvored thing I’ve ever tasted. No extract, just cream-flavored ice cream with lots of pistachios. It costs more than their other flavors and it’s rarely on sale. I hate ice cream with things in it, but this is the exception.
January 29th, 2012 at 9:11 am
Almonds and Pistachios evidently have a long tradition. In 1908, Mrs. Rorer, Principal of the Philadelphia Cooking School, published a recipe in “Dainty Dishes” for Pistachio Ice Cream, listed under Nut Creams. The ingredients were 1 quart of cream, 1/2 pound of sugar, 1 quart of spinach, 1 teaspoonful extract of almonds, 1 heaping tablespoonful of vanilla sugar or a teaspoonful of the extract, 1/2 pound of shelled pistachio nuts. The spinach was boiled, pounded to a pulp, then drained through muslin and used to color the ice cream a light green.
In the same booklet, under English Creams, there’s another Pistachio Ice Cream with 1/4 pound pistachios, 1/4 pound of Jordan almonds, 1 teaspoonful of extract of almond, 1 pint of cream, 1/4 pound of sugar, Spinach coloring.
Thought you might find this bit of history interesting.
Judy Hirigoyen says:
March 7th, 2012 at 10:37 am
Lottie and Doof, I saw your blog and hope you will forgive that I am not a “hype man,” but a “hype woman” and the Director of Global Marketing for the pistachio trade association, American Pistachio Growers. Great blog! Yes, I agree if it says it’s pistachio paste, shouldn’t it be pistachios? First, to your question about paste…let me turn you on to a supplier in Placer County, California, Fiddyment Farms. They make a “pistachio butter” and we think you’ll love it. Please play with it and let us know. Contact Adriana and tell her I sent you. Now, about pistachio pastes and butters–the range of greens is wide, which is why some manufacturers will add coloring for consistency in product. Next, please check out our brand new baby, AmericanPistachios.org and check the recipes and the food professionals dropdowns. I’d love your readers’ feedback. Cheers!
April 2nd, 2012 at 11:45 am
looks delicious! :))
i wanna try them!