If you are a fan of the buttery, crumbly, nutty cookies known as Mexican Wedding Cakes and Russian Tea Cakes, you will love this pistachio version. The pale green color of the nut shows through the hefty coating of confectioners’ sugar that envelops these butterball cookies. They are rich and elegant and keep quite well. Perfect for host/hostess gifts, they are as pretty as they are unusual. How about a simple clear cellophane bag with a sumptuous red silk ribbon for the winter holidays?
- ¾ cup shelled, raw, unsalted, green pistachios, rubbed clean of papery skin
- 1½ cups sifted confectioners’ sugar, divided into 1 cup and ½ cup
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at cool room temperature, cut into pieces
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- Place pistachios, ½ cup confectioners’ sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse on and off to break up nuts, then process until nuts are finely ground. Add butter a few pieces at a time, pulsing on and off to incorporate, then run the machine until the mixture is smooth; pulse in almond extract. Add flour and pulse machine on and off until incorporated, scraping the dough down once or twice. Process until the dough begins to form a ball. Remove dough from machine, form into a very flat disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours or until firm enough to roll into balls. Dough may be refrigerated overnight. You may freeze dough up to 1 month; defrost in refrigerator overnight before proceeding.
- Position racks in upper and lower third of oven. Preheat oven to 350° F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Roll dough between your palms with lightly floured hands into 1-inch balls and place on prepared pans 2 inches apart. Gently flatten just enough so that they don’t roll off the sheet.
- Bake for about 18 to 22 minutes or until just turning light golden brown around the edges and on the bottoms. Cool pans on racks for 5 minutes, then sift remaining 1 cup confectioners’ sugar over warm cookies. After cookies have cooled completely, roll them in the confectioners’ sugar on the baking sheet to cover completely. Store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks, along with the confectioner’s sugar. Roll them around again right before serving.
- The exotic, elusive flavor of pistachios is greatly enhanced with a light toasting. If you skip this step, the cookies will work, but the pistachio flavor will be muted.