strawberry pistachio thumbprint cookies

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Once upon a time it was January. And it was very cold and dry and the markets were full of citrus. My, how things have changed. 2014 has been full of surprises. Anything and everything has happened in these past four months. I could say a million things about the goings-on, like favorites coming to town, and babies being born, and little brothers getting engaged. But I wouldn’t even know where to begin. So on to May we go…

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Summer is just a heartbeat away, but it still very much feels like spring around here. It’s all chambray and strawberries at the moment. Which reminds me of these cookies.

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I first made these for an office cookie party last year. I’m coming to realize that I don’t bake cookies very often. I’m more of a cupcake/cake maker when it comes to baking. But I do love a good cookie. I think I’m going to really work on my cookie repertoire this year. More cookies! I’ll let you know how it goes.

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This is exactly my kind of cookie. It’s buttery and shortbread-ish and encrusted in toasty pistachios. I love pistachios – they’re my favorite nut for snacking. Finished off with a well of jammy strawberry goodness makes these a big fat yesssss. It’s a perfect cookie, ideal for tea parties and springtime.

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strawberry pistachio thumbprint cookies 

adapted from joyofbaking.com

makes about three dozen cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature 

1/2 cup granulated sugar 

2 large eggs, separated 

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1-1/2 cups pistachios, toasted and finely chopped

1/2 – 3/4 cup strawberry jam

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolks and vanilla extract and beat until combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Add the flour mixture to the batter and beat until just combined. If the dough is too soft to roll into balls, refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350F and place rack in the center of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk the egg whites until frothy. Place the finely chopped pistachios on a plate. Roll the dough into 1-inch balls. Taking one ball of dough at a time, dip into the egg white and then roll in the nuts until completely coated. Place on prepared baking sheets, spacing about 1-inch apart. Using your thumb or end of a wooden spoon, make an indentation in the center of each cookie and fill with about 1/2 teaspoon of jam.

Bake for about 12-15 minutes, or until cookies are set and the nuts have nicely browned. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

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buttered popcorn butterscotch cookies

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Let’s all just stop for a moment and take a deep breath. Now exhale. Maybe I speak just for myself, but I’m pretty sure everybody needed that.

Now we can talk about cookies. We like cookies around here. But they don’t happen very often. Luckily for us, my friend Marilen coordinates a quarterly cookie swap with a handful of the girls in the office. And so this week we have cookies.

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Because it’s so close to Halloween, I wanted to do a really fun, lighthearted cookie. Yes, I did just say that. Let me explain. I feel like there is a cookie fit for every occasion. In my mind, anything with dark chocolate or really good cocoa powder is more suitable for a grown-up gathering, rather than a bunch of kiddos. And macarons are perfect for something fancy, like a tea party or a bridal shower. And a good ole chocolate chip cookie is the right cookie for anyone that needs some comforting. I really spend a lot of time thinking about this kind of stuff. What can I say? This is straight from the mind of a crazy person.

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Anyway, I remembered a buttered popcorn cookie I had seen while flipping through The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook a few weeks back and I knew I was onto something. But I felt like it needed a little something to really make it pop. At first I thought bittersweet chocolate. Then white chocolate crossed my mind for a split second, though I’m not such a fan of white chocolate. And then it occurred to me – buttered popcorn + butterscotch chips = fun and delish (fundelicious!). I was certain I had found the winning combination.

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You guys, this is a really good cookie. It’s the first popcorn cookie I’ve ever had – popcorn in a cookie is mind blowing stuff. These cookies are strangely addictive. Some pieces of popcorn are crisp while others get a little soft, but in a good way. Kind of like those slightly stale bricks of Wright’s Pink Popcorn that I absolutely adore. Buttered popcorn, combined with sweet butterscotch chips in a buttery cookie dough; I don’t know how to describe it other than it’s like sweet, magical buttery butteriness. And there you go.

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buttered popcorn butterscotch cookies 

adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman

makes 24 cookies

2 tablespoons vegetable oil 

1/4 cup popcorn kernels 

1/4 kosher teaspoon salt 

1 tablespoon butter, melted 

1/2 cup butter, softened 

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar 

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg 

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 

1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour 

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt 

1/2 cup butterscotch chips

*alternately, you can substitute the first 4 ingredients with 4-1/2 cups popped microwave popcorn 

Pour the oil over the bottom of a large saucepan that had a lid. Add the popcorn kernels, shaking the pan around so the kernels arein one layer. Cover the pot and heat it over medium-high heat. Once the kernels start to  pop, keep the sauce pan moving until all the kernels have popped and you no longer hear popping, about 5 to 7 minutes total. Pour the melted butter and 1/4 teaspoon salt over the popcorn and toss. Transfer the popcorn to a bowl and remove any unpopped kernels. You should have 4 to 4-1/2 cups popcorn. Let cool.

Preheat your oven to 350F. In a large bowl, cream together the softened butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, egg,  and vanilla until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir the dry ingredients into the butter mixture. Fold the butterscotch chips and popcorn into the batter until it is evenly distributed throughout. Don’t worry if the popcorn breaks up a bit.

Scoop heaping tablespoons of dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving 2 inches between each cookie. Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes, until the edges are light brown. Let them sit on the hot baking sheet for a few minutes to firm up before transferring them to a rack to cool.

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