Soft & pillowy with a nutty undertone is what I have for the 3rd day of the Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies. Mascarpone often gets overlooked in baking in favour of the more popular cream cheese. But it's adds a bit of a sophisticated touch and a subtle flavour that's feels a bit more grown up. Add pistachios and you've got yourself an exotic Christmas cookie!
Exotic you say...hahaha. Okay, well maybe not. But my 10 year old self would have definitely called these exotic. I'm sure I hadn't heard of mascarpone cheese and probably never saw a pistachio nut in my life up to that point. It's all relative and food is only as exotic as the we are unfamiliar with it. At least that's how I feel. To me, ingredients like olives, capers, lemons, olive oil and even pistachios are main stream these days. Mostly because of where I live and they are available year round at my frugal budget prices. But if I still lived back in Newfoundland, I might only be pulling out those ingredients for special occasions. Peanut butter is considered exotic here! Like I said, it's all relative.
You might think I'm joking about the peanut butter, only half joking. When I first set my lily white feet on Spanish soil, I couldn't even find peanut butter here. Along with a list as long as two of my arms put together, there were so many ingredients I couldn't get my hands on. And still, to this day, there's so many ingredients that we can't get around here. Or you can, but at a price. A price that's usually too high for this frugal housewife. There's that frugal word again.
So, as a rule, I stick to what I can get in the local shops around here and just make do. That's not a complaint as the abundance of beautiful fresh produce, fish and meats far makes up for the lack of sprinkles.
Mind you a few glittery Christmas sprinkles wouldn't have gone astray through the Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies.
So due to lack of many ingredients that so many of my readers find common place, the Christmas cookies are using lots of imagination to become my kind of Christmassy. Oh, I just remembered molasses, golden syrup, corn syrup are just naming a quick few more things I can't get my hands on. I have found golden syrup at a few places in the past but not in the past year. It's not big deal as I just seek things I can make without those delicious sweet ingredients...boohoo.
Sure I could order on line, make a run to the border (literally, Gibraltar is only a hop skip and a jump away) or ask friends that have access to the goods. But I've relied so long on what I can find locally that I can make do without. But if a carton of molasses were to mysteriously drop from the sky, I'm sure I could find a use for it. Just saying.
So let's take a little look of what I actually had in my Spanish cupboards to make these cookies.
Let's start with pistachios.
Peeling pistachio nuts is one of those fussy jobs. It's a bit time consuming and tedious, but it's got to be done. Nobody wants to eat shells in their cookies. I find there's always a few in a bag that just don't want to open. Save yourself the frustration and just skip those ones. I may have been found yelling at pistachio nuts before...haha!
Roughly chop up the pistachios after you chop them. You can chop them as big or as small as you like
Optional. You can choose to toast the nuts before using. Yes, this does give them more flavour for sure. I didn't do it for this recipe but have toasted nuts for lots of recipes before. If you are going down that route, here's what you need to do. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Put the nuts on a large baking tray so they are not overlapping. Bake them in the oven for about 5 - 7 minutes. Keep an eye on them so they don't burn. Let them cool before adding them to the batter if you chose to toast them.
I don't have every single step here for you today as I kind of skipped ahead when I was making these and just kind of forgot to take the pictures. Still getting used to my new way of writing my blog. Again, if you're new, I didn't use to do the step-by-step. It's a whole new world.
Okay, so here you can see the cookie dough all put together. I combined the dry ingredients in a bowl and set them aside. In my mixing bowl, I gently whisked the mascarpone, butter and sugar together. Then I added the vanilla and eggs and mixed until it just came together. You're not looking to mix the batter too long. Then the dry ingredients were added until combined. And finally those nuts. Remember if you choose to toast the nuts, let them cool completely before adding to the cookie dough.
I refrigerated the dough for about an hour. Do I really need to do this? Well, it depends what kind of cookie you are looking for. By chilling the dough the fat in the cookie stays solid for longer and the cookie will spread out less. If you don't chill the dough, it will likely spread quickly and become a thinner cookie. These cookies are meant to be pillowy, soft with a cross between a cookie and cake texture. If you don't chill the dough they will still taste good, but have a completely different texture.
Once you have chilled dough, you can mound them onto the baking tray. You can choose to use a small ice cream scoop or a teaspoon. Or if you prefer, you can roll them into little balls. They might stick to your hands. You can dust your hands lightly with flour to help prevent this from happening.
Bake these for around 12 minutes. They will spread slightly when cooking, become a little golden and rise a little. You'll want to take them out when they are quire soft. These cookies will firm up as they cool.
The end result of these cookies is a pretty good one. They are a little spongy but dense at the same time if that makes sense. The mascarpone adds a subtle flavour and the pistachios are just fantastic. A great snacking cookie with a cup of tea or coffee.
At first glance, they might not look like much, but they are pretty darn tasty. It's easy to over look the "less attractive" cookies on a platter in choice of the attention seeking glittery ones. But sometimes looks don't count...hahaha.
In the event you're heading in the looks direction, you could even jazz them up a bit by adding a drizzle or glaze. I thought of doing it this time around, but time wasn't on my side and I just left it. But I reckon it would taste pretty good.
Here's something I've learned through this cookie baking challenge.
Cookie monsters live in my house. And the winner goes to my dear husband. A self confessed health nut that eats anything chocolate and apparently all the cookies I've been baking. Okay, not all, but quite a few.
I was surprised to see that these were one of his favourites. He always roots for the underdog. I'm only saying they were his favourite based on how many he ate. As in, almost all of them.
Remember yesterday I was talking about how December got off to a wonderful start? Well, yesterday was a much more normal day that ended up in a trip to the ER after dinner. Just a normal day, right.
Well, when you have a super active 14 year old that underplays injuries for far too long until it hit's bust and panic sets in. Well, thankfully he's okay with just a pretty bad sprain. He's got his leg bandaged to his knee and is wondering how to get shoes on for school today. Maybe this will slow him down for a bit.
Hoping today is less eventful and tonight we might even watch our first Christmas movie of the season. Cheers to zero drama.
Today, I want to leave you with Rockin Around the Christmas Tree by Brenda Lee. Another classic and favourite Christmas tune. But if I have to confess, I love most of the old school Christmas music. There's some of the newer songs I don't mind as well, but I prefer the classics. And when I say classics, I mean anything before 1990!
Thanks for stopping by today and hoping your getting baking inspired and feeling a bit festive. I know, it's only early days yet. Shhhh, but I haven't done any baking yet. As the cookies I have been working on for this collection, we've been eating as I've baked them through the past six weeks. I'll bake a few things for us come the next few weeks.
Have a great Tuesday and don't forget to check back tomorrow to see what Christmas treat I have in store.
Mascarpone Pistachio Cookies
Makes 36 (approximately) / Prep time: 15 minutes / Chill time: 1 hour / Bake time: 12 minutes
200 grams/8 ounces Mascarpone cheese
1/2 Cup/125 grams butter, softened
1 Cup/200 grams sugar
1 Teaspoon vanilla
2 Eggs, large and at room temperature
2 1/2 Cups/310 grams flour
1 Teaspoon baking soda
1 Cup/100 grams pistachios, shelled and roughly chopped
Combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of your electric mixer, add the mascarpone cheese, butter and sugar. Mix on low speed until just combined, about a minute. Beat in the vanilla extract and then add the eggs one at a time, mixing to just combine after each addition.
Add the flour and stir until just combined. Stir in the pistachios. Cover and refrigerated dough for and hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
Spoon small mounds on a baking tray. Or alternatively you can roll them into balls to make them more of a uniform shape. Bake for about 12 minutes.
Cool on tray for about 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Repeat for all cookies.
Will keep in an airtight container for about 3 days.
Click the downloadable link below to print recipe!
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