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I somewhat fell off the wagon regarding my Cookbook of the Month endeavor during the almost month I recently spent in Europe. While I technically “could” have continued it abroad, especially since my Airbnb in Montpellier, France did have an oven, five minutes of trying in vain to understand the various settings was enough for me to just relish being able to try as many eateries as possible. (This and the near melt-down I had when attempting to do laundry and not “just knowing” that in France, after your wash cycle is done, one needs to do a SEPARATE spin cycle. Oui, so intuitive.)
Since I had only tried two recipes from Sevtap Yüce’s beautiful Turkish Fire cookbook, I decided to make the inaugural cookbook of the month selection actually extend for two months (I plan to try out two more recipes over the holidays). So I’ll be unveiling my new cookbook of the month selection sometime next month and will try to keep to my goal of one new recipe each week.
As I would discover from my trip to Turkey, pistachios are HUGE there. They can be found in just about every sweet concoction you can think of. My favorite was the incredible dessert I had on my food tour in Istanbul, katmer, which is a type of Turkish pancake filled with ground pistachios and clotted cream. And most recently when I was in Berlin, one of the stops on the food tour I took there included a visit to a Turkish confectionary shop. Pistachios were everywhere.
While I absolutely adore all things uber sweet and especially chocolaty, I also like the sweet treats that are not overly oozing in sugary decadence. And that’s why I was drawn to the recipe for Pistachio Cookies, for it reminded me of another not-overly sweet cookie recipe I made a couple of years ago.
Just like the previous two recipes I tried, the one for Pistachio Cookies was easy and simple. By far the worst part about it was shelling the pistachios (my recommendation would be to buy nuts already shelled). I naively thought they would come out perfectly green from the shell. No, those that did come out easily enough were still covered in ugly brownish casings. Once I ground the nuts in my grinder, the paste it made was a lovely and vibrant shade of green. During cooking though, it became more of a lifeless green. Were I to make these again, I would possibly experiment by adding a drop of green food coloring to the dough to make them more visually striking.
I really enjoyed the taste of these non-traditional cookies. And I only wished I could be enjoying a few with a glass of çay on a rooftop balcony overlooking the Bosphorus.
Fistikli Kurabiye (Pistachio Cookies)
Recipe adapted from Sevtap Yüce’s Turkish Fire
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
4 tablespoons butter, softened (plus extra for greasing)
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup finely ground pistachio nuts
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
FOR THE TOPPING
1 pistachio nut per cookie
-Preheat the oven to 340 degrees F. Grease a large baking sheet with softened butter.
-Put the flour in a large bowl and make a large well in the center. Add all the remaining cookie ingredients to the middle of the well and mix them with your fingers, without bringing the flour into the middle.
-Now gently start to bring the flour into the mixture, until a dough forms. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes, until it feels like your earlobe.
-Break off pieces and form into round balls, about 3/4 inch in diameter. Poke a pistachio on top of each cookie and place on the baking tray.
-Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden. Allow to cool, then dust with confectioners sugar if desired.
Note: the cookies will keep in an air-tight container for 2-3 days.