My friend, Chef Wanda Chau, owns and operates Bah! Baked at Home. Her shortbread cookies were featured on the program “On the Coast” on CBC Radio 1 hosted by Stephen Quinn for its weekly food feature about the upcoming One of a Kind Show. They tried the Lavender & Vanilla shortbread and the Parmesan shortbread – one sweet and one savoury. I’ve had both and they are delicious. I also love her gingersnap cookies which are both chewy and soft. I’m still trying to find a recipe that will give me the same taste and texture.
They also featured a pistachio shortbread cookie – recipe below. It sounds very much like the Butterball Surprises my Mom and I made at Christmas time. The surprise is the chocolate chips we added to the original recipe from the Five Roses Cookbook. We roll the cookies into balls and sprinkle with icing sugar after baking. They are quite lovely for Christmas and because they aren’t in the traditional shapes found with shortbread, people are often surprised with the taste. The cookies are delicate, flakey and not too rich tasting although filled with butter! The recipe is a family favourite. My niece Chloe also bakes these cookies so the family tradition is being carried on from my Mom and me.
I don’t have my Five Roses cookbook with me so this year I am going to use Anna Olson’s recipe as the base and make some with pistachios and some with chocolate chips. Let me know if you try these. Happy Baking and Merry Christmas to all!
Pistachio Snowball Cookies by Anna Olson, “Back to Baking”, Whitecap Books, 2011)
• Makes about 4 dozen cookies • (egg-free)
The richness of pistachios complements the buttery, melt-in-your-mouth tenderness of these dainty cookies.
2 1/3 cups (580 mL) all-purpose flour
1 cup (250 mL) shelled, roasted, unsalted pistachios
1/3 cup (80 mL) sugar
1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
1 1/4 cup (310 mL) cold unsalted butter, cut in pieces
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract
Icing sugar, for coating
Preheat the oven to 325°f (160°c) and line 2 baking trays with parchment.
Using a food processor, pulse the flour, pistachios, sugar, and salt until the pistachios are finely ground into the mixture. Add the butter and vanilla, and pulse until the dough comes together.
Roll teaspoonfuls of dough into balls about 1 inch (2.5 cm) across and place them 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart on the prepared baking trays. Bake the cookies for 15 to 18 minutes, until the bottoms just begin to colour. Cool the cookies completely on the baking trays, then roll them in icing sugar to coat. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week.
Notes from Anna’s kitchen and from Cathy:
Tender nuts like pistachios, pecans, walnuts, and pine nuts can typically be interchanged in recipes, so you can tailor your cookies to suit your tastes or what you may have on hand.
The oils in these nut varieties are quite delicate and can quickly turn rancid. If you do not plan on using your stock of nuts within 2 months, it’s best to store them, well wrapped, in the freezer.
Substitute the nuts with chocolate chips for a nut-free cookie.