Friday, December 3, 2010

On the Third Day of Cookiemas, My True Love Gave to Me: Pistachio Hearts

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Zimtsterne are de rigeur on my family's holiday cookie menu.  If you're not familiar, it's a cinnamon, hazelnut (some people use almond) meringue cookie.  It's chewy and lovely.

It's never been my favorite.

Since I'm a grown woman, I'm permitted to do as I please.  That includes messing with time worn family recipes.  And since I've been so brazen as to invent my own holiday, Cookiemas, I'm taking upon myself to start some new culinary traditions.

Let's start with pistachio hearts, shall we?

Pistachio Hearts

The hearts follow zimtsterne rules, so if you're an old hand at the nutty meringue, go forward fearlessly.  Otherwise, follow directions.  I've added a small amount of orange zest to give the treat a hint of holiday finesse.  You can feel free to work without it.

Ingredients

2 LARGE egg whites
pinch salt
1 1/4 cups confectioners sugar
8 ounces shelled, raw and unsalted pistachios
1/4 teaspoon (large pinch) orange zest
(extra confectioners and some parchment paper for rolling)

Procedure

-In a food processor, grind together pistachios, 1/4 cup of the confectioner's and the zest until the pistachios are finely ground.  Set aside.

-Combine egg whites and salt in the bowl of a VERY CLEAN and dry mixing bowl.  Whisk until the egg whites become foamy.  Slowly add the confectioner's sugar and beat on high until you get stiff, white peaks (this can take a few minutes).

-Set aside about 1/4 to 1/3 of the meringue mixture (just eyeball it).

-Fold the remaining meringue into the ground nut mixture until you've create a thick dough.


-Sprinkle a generous amount of confectioner's sugar on a piece of parchment.  Flatten the dough on top of the parchment and sift a generous amount of confectioner's sugar on top of the dough and then top with another piece of parchment.  Roll the dough to about 1/4 inch thick.

-Using a heart shaped cookie cutter (dip in confectioner's sugar or water to keep the cutter from sticking to the dough), stamp out the hearts and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Spread an inch or so apart.  The cookies don't spread so there's not much worry.



-Using a small offset spatula, smear the tops of each heart with a light layer of the reserved meringue.  Continue with the rest of the cookies.


-Bake at 300ยบ for about 15 - 20 minutes, or until the bottoms of the cookies are a VERY light golden brown.  The cookies should be light and chewy, not hard and crunchy.