Thursday, December 6, 2012

Russian Tea Cakes to Pistachio Tea Cookies

I am making cookies. 


Pistachio Tea Cookies
A couple of days ago I made Russian Tea Cakes (aka Snowballs, Mexican Wedding Cakes), which are high on my favorites list. I love walnuts, and have always made them with walnuts. I love shortbread and shortbread type cookies too, so these are a hit for me, no matter how you look at them. My whole family is crazy about these cookies, too, so it is no surprise they turn up on the list each year.

I saw somewhere on the internet that these cookies have been made in variations. One was using pistachio and green tea powder. Another I saw was a chocolate version. I just happened to have both pistachios and green tea powder, so I took my original recipe and played with ingredients and came up with my own version: Pistachio Tea Cookies. They turned out just delicious, even making a contender for first place in my cookie-loving heart.

A caveat about the Matcha green tea powder. Not all the Match sold is equal, not by a long shot. The better the quality, the brighter and denser the green of the powder. My first experience in buying Matcha was with no knowledge, and I bought a cheaper brand. It was very pale green, so light that it was difficult to get a real green color in these cookies. I used a full 1/4 cup of the Matcha powder and it yielded a pale green cookie. Even the little bits of pistachio in the cookie were more noticeably green. If using a higher quality Matcha powder, you might need far less of it in these cookies. 

Pistachio Tea Cookies

Pistachio Tea Cookies
makes about 7 1/2 dozen cookies 

2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon pistachio flavoring
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 1/4 cups flour
2 - 4 tablespoons matcha green tea powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups unsalted raw pistachios, finely ground

Cream together the butter, confectioners' sugar and flavorings.  If pistachio flavor is not available, use either all almond, or half almond and half vanilla extracts. Using a pastry cutter, cut into the creamed mixture the flour, matcha green tea powder and salt.  Add in the nuts and blend well. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Form small balls about 1 inch in diameter and place on ungreased cookie sheets to bake for 14 - 16 minutes or until just set but not browned.

ready to bake
I found this dough worked really well with no need to chill it before making the cookies. I used a small cookie scoop 1 1/4 inch in diameter and packed the dough into the little scoop and dropped the cookies this way onto the cookie sheet. They were so cute! The scoop holds just over 2 teaspoons of dough, and these are just the perfect size.  Using one of these scoops makes cookies a real snap.  I would recommend that everyone invest in at least a couple of these smaller sizes.

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website, on Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.