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holiday cookie hell

Recipe: pistachio sandies

I’ve had every intention to post here on Fridays, but I kept getting blindsided by a myriad of more pressing things I needed to get done. What with all of the work, projects, holiday baking, entertaining, and well… ski whoring.


this is vail, bitches

nothing like a little combat skiing (glades) to get the morning started (at eldora)



Plus, there was Ignite Boulder 13 last week – one of the few evening events Jeremy and I are willing to attend on a weeknight. I really love going to Ignite Boulder because I get to see heaps of local friends in attendance, volunteering, or presenting. I gave out 90 snickerdoodles, even more hugs, and heckled the bejeezus out of my shooting partner and good friend, Jason.

fearless mc, ef

sold out crowd of over 850

talking about mental “o”

two highlights of my evening: the fabulous lady janelle (that’s jason, who presented) and smokey bear!



The thing that has really been the big time suck of late is this holiday baking schedule. Sure I love to just whip up a batch or even a double batch of cookies to share… However, because it is the holidays, I – like so many of my baking friends – am making a dozen kinds of cookies or confections to give out to those individuals we want to thank for their service and general competence. My kitchen has been insanity of late, cranking out hundreds of cookies. But, I’m always on the lookout for a relatively easy, yet appealing new cookie recipe and I happened upon one of Aran’s recently.

pistachios about to get toasted (in the oven, not on booze)

pulse in the food processor



Because Aran bakes gluten-free, her original recipe is a gluten-free cookie. It seems that that majority of food blogging bakers are taking the gluten OUT of the cookies for their adaptations. Me? Well, I decided to put the gluten INTO the recipe this time. (Forgive me, Shauna. xo) Actually, what I did was take my old Mexican wedding cookies recipe and substitute ground, toasted pistachios for the pecans and add some almond extract. How awesome is that?

that’s right – butter

and flour



I’m not a huge fan of pistachio skins, which is part of the reason I toast my pistachios for a few minutes. When they cool, the skins become easier to rub off the pistachio nut. Also, the fewer pistachio skins in the mix, the greener the cookie. I love green. I freaking love the color green.

almond extract adds a nice flavor

mix in the nuts



So the dough turned out drier than the dough for the Mexican wedding cookies and I think that may have to do with the oil content of the nuts? I dunno. They worked out fine, but I think reducing the flour or adding a smidge more butter will bring you a dough consistency closer to the pecan version. In this case, I had to be a little more gentle forming the dough balls.

roll out the dough balls

dusting the cookies in powdered sugar



Despite the added work of toasting and skinning the pistachios, I really prefer these to pecan sandies because of that pistachio-almond extract-y flavor. I can take or leave pecans, but pistachios? I’m all over that one. And they make beautiful sweet treat gifts. So if you haven’t tried these, you might consider changing up your holiday cookie repertoire to include these lovelies.

awesome blossom!



Pistachio Sandies
[print recipe]
inspired by Cannelle et Vanille

1 cup (~100 g) pistachios
8 oz. butter, softened
2 1/4 cups (315 g) flour
1/3 cup (45 g) powdered sugar
1 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp water
1 cup extra powdered sugar for rolling/dusting

Heat oven to 325°F. Spread the pistachios on a baking sheet into one layer and toast for 5-10 minutes in oven (don’t let them brown, they should *just* start to smell toasty). Remove from oven and let cool. Rub the pistachios in a kitchen towel or with your fingers to remove as much of the pistachio skins as possible. Pulse the pistachios in a food processor to a coarse meal. Place the butter in a large bowl and beat for 30 seconds. Add half of the flour, powdered sugar, almond extract, vanilla, and water. Beat until blended then beat in the rest of the flour. Stir in the nuts. Pinch off dough and form 1-inch diameter balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 20-25 minutes until the bottoms are golden brown. Remove from baking sheet and cool on cooking rack. When cookies are cooled, roll in powdered sugar. Makes 36 cookies.

30 nibbles at “holiday cookie hell”

  1. Nico says:

    these are so unique and they look quite tasty! bookmarked for use within the week!

  2. LimeCake says:

    I like that you used pistachio instead of the ‘traditional’ pecan. They’re such a lovely colour and flavour. Happy holidays!

  3. Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite says:

    So pretty and festive! I love pistachios at this time of year, especially in cookies!

  4. Wei-Wei says:

    Oh, these look amazing… They’d make great (albeit SLIGHTLY messy) christmas gifts – the colour of pistachios is so lovely.

  5. Caitlin says:

    While I have to admit pecans are one of my favorite snacking cookies, I am so with you on pistachios. They rock. And one day, I’ll actually make wedding cookies / sandies. Have fun on the slopes! (I’ll just be here, in NC, looking outside at the rain. *sigh*)

  6. My Kitchen in the Rockies says:

    I am jealous. Haven’t made it up to ski yet.
    Great idea to use the pistachios.

  7. peabody says:

    Cookies look great! And more important…yay for skiing!!!

  8. Sharlene says:

    Gorgeous. I wish I knew how to ski/snowboard!

  9. Whitney says:

    What a freakin’ awesome idea. I’m having a cookie party Saturday and this recipe is getting added to the list!

    Vail looks gorgeous.

  10. Maya says:

    I make the Mexican wedding cookies often. But the pistachios will make them both gorgeous and delicious. And it just so happens that I have some pistachios at home. Now I know what I’ll be baking tonight. Thanks!

  11. Karen from Globetrotter Diaries says:

    YUUUUM! Love pistachios… and butter!

  12. Ruth Ann says:

    Oh yum! These look so awesome. Can’t wait to make them sometime soon. Thanks Jen!

  13. Joy says:

    Drool….that looks so good.

  14. Cynthe says:

    Oooh, I LOVE pistachios, too. We eat nuts frequently and if I remember correctly, pistachios have the most protein in relationship to fat content of all nuts.

    And they’re GREEN (a green fan here, too)…so what’s not to love? These are melt-in-your-mouth type cookies and I’m definitely going to give your recipe a try. Thanks for the idea!

  15. Spice Sherpa says:

    Okay, yes…love the pistachios. Moving on, it’s your SKI PICTURES that make my pulse race this snowy morning. That’s the powdery confectioner’s sugar I’d like use. You have your priorities straight. :-) Happy snow days!

  16. haribo sweets says:

    Oh wow I missed skiing! :/ Lucky you..

    Anyhow, wonderful cookies. I like it that it’s pistachio. I can sit and eat an entire bag of it so I’m glad there’s another way to use it. Haha. Actually I love anything pistachio like ice cream, :/

  17. Gemma says:

    Yum, yum! I recently made Mexican Wedding cookies (using your recipe) and it was melt-in-your-mouth fabulous! So I am looking forward to trying this recipe as well sometime later this week. Vail looks amazing! Happy skiing to you!

  18. Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday says:

    Oh I love pistachios! And they’re so festive too :D

  19. Cathy/ShowFoodChef says:

    Love pistachios, too. Thanx for a new and easy recipe – need the change up, also. I remember reading about your Ignite event last year – It seems like a fantastic time. Sending you giant wishes for a great ski/holiday/winter season :D

  20. Sam says:

    Very cool although I am a bit unclear how much extra butter to add to the batter to make it how you recommend it? Or is it merely a mater of adding more pistachios. I will definitely try them either way. Thanks!

  21. Trolleira says:

    Great! I have to make them! Only pistachios here in Brazil are weight in gold – but I am going to have christmas in Germany :o) and lots of time to make the cookies!!!
    If you like this texture and green, than try that ones: http://www.marthastewart.com/recipe/lime-meltaways
    divine!!!

    Greetings from the heat and have a nice christmas!

  22. Christine says:

    Gorgeous! Now if I were to make these about how much flour do you think I should skip? About a quarter cup?

  23. Kath says:

    Thanks so much for the snickerdoodles…they were yummalicious!

    You’re so awesome and so kind…even better than a snickerdoodle…x200

    xo :-)

  24. Jill says:

    Those look YUMMY!

  25. Margie says:

    Oh my, these are lovely. I may have to play with my food this season. I generally do a cream cheese snowball, but this pistachio item may overtake the usual Christmas tray fare. Who can resist a pistachio? … My point, exactly! ;)

  26. marla {family fresh cooking} says:

    The light in your kitchen must be awesome – all of your shots are so clear & bright. Um, I guess that is why you are my teacher ;) You get it & I easily get slapped silly with lighting issues. I read this post the other day & did not have time to leave a comment. The skiing looks like a blast & the sandies must be very tasty. Glad to read you are at the end of the cookie making craziness.
    The pic of Kaweah from the other post is darling :) Sweet baby girl. Hope she had a very happy birthday.

  27. Christmas Holiday Dessert & Sweet Treat Recipe Round Up on Food Blogs — Family Fresh Cooking says:

    [...] Pistachio Sandies Use Real Butter [...]

  28. jenyu says:

    Sam – Oh, maybe just a tablespoon or so – not a huge amount.

    Trolleira – yup, I’ve blogged those too – they are lovely cookies!

    Christine – yeah, or even less than that (maybe an 1/8th of a cup?)

    Marla – thanks sweetie :) xo

  29. pistachio sandies | Whitney in Chicago says:

    [...] Sandies Recipe adapted from Use Real Butter (via Cannelle et [...]

  30. Nico says:

    just blogged these … they were heavenly and my family loved them!

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