brunch, desserts

pistachio sables.

I love random facts; I have hundreds, perhaps thousands of them floating around in my head. I whip them out at odd and sometimes inappropriate times, much to the (sometimes) delight and (often) dismay of my friends and relatives. I have a way of remembering little things way better than larger, more practical things, like when bills are due. Or when birthdays are. Or what day it is. So here’s a random fact for you: “sable” is French for “sandy,” which is why these particular cookies are called sables. Calling a cookie a sable lets you know that this will be a sandy little butter cookie with a lovely, dense crumb. And here I was just making a sliced refrigerator cookie with nuts in it. Silly me. 

I made these because I had a party to attend, and I was responsible for the cookie trays. Knowing I had a lot on my plate anyway this particular week (Exhibit A: the apple Pi pie), I needed a few cookies I could make ahead of time which would yield a good amount and could be frozen for a week without any damage to their integrity or flavor. I was already making the compost, the blueberries and cream, and the mini-deep dish chocolate chip cookies, but I needed a different, non-chocolate one to add to the mix. And then these appeared.

This is a do-it-in-your-sleep cookie, and that’s exactly what I needed. I was slightly concerned the sugary edges would lose something in the freezing/thawing, but they didn’t at all: they looked as glittery as they day they came out of the oven. They were sturdy enough to hold up packed in freezer bags without any of them breaking, and they made almost double what the book says, thanks to my  tendency with sliced cookies to split the dough in half and make two logs of almost the same length as the recipe calls for using one log. I do it almost all the time when I follow cookbook recipes, and I get a massive amount of 1 1/2 to 2-inch cookies, which I prefer size-wise to their larger counterparts.

Pretty little things, aren’t they? And all white and washed-out looking like a butter cookie should be, but studded with that lovely green which makes pistachios so recognizable. And it’s not a heavy pistachio flavor; we’re not talking pistachio ice cream or pudding. This is more of a true pistachio nut flavor: not overpowering in the slightest. Bonus: I didn’t think about it at the time, but these would be a classy little addition to a St. Patrick’s Day party. Like the Irish coffee blondies, they’d be great with a cup of coffee or tea after dinner. Or for breakfast. I can totally see these being a great brunch cookie, if you’re into that sort of thing.

See? Oodles and oodles of cookies. And make them bigger if you’d like; I’ll give you the directions for how I do it, but feel free to make the log(s) any size you wish. The most important thing for baking is the thickness of the cookie, not how big your circles are, so keep them at about a 1/4 of an inch.

Adapted from that dang Art of the Cookie: Baking Up Inspiration By the Dozen by Shelly Kaldunski. So by now we’ve established that it’s a great book for both cute and practical cookies. Buy it and it will save you from any sort of cookie rut.

Pistachio Sables

  • 2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1/2 cup pistachios, coarsely chopped
  • green food coloring (optional, but it’s 1 drop and it does give your cookies a nice tone. Just saying.)
  • white sanding sugar for rolling

In a medium bowl, whisk together the 2 cups flour and the salt. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or using a hand mixer and a large bowl) on medium high speed, beat together the butter and confectioner’s sugar until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add the drop of green food coloring and mix until incorporated. Add the egg white and beat on low speed until completely incorporated. Add the flour mixture in two parts, beating on low speed until just combined. Scrape down the bowl and add in pistachios, mixing on low until evenly disbursed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again, remove the bowl (if using a stand mixer) and check to make sure your pistachios are even throughout. If not, use a spatula and fold them the rest of the way.

Using lightly floured hands, work dough into a ball and divide into two equal parts. roll each log out into an 11 to 12-inch log, making your eventual cookie slices about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Lay some wax paper on your work surface and lay one of your logs down. sprinkle sanding sugar along the length of the log and roll forward into the sugar to coat the outside thoroughly, adding more sanding sugar to the pile as needed. Repeat with the other log. Wrap both logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 1-2 hours or up to overnight.

When ready to bake, preheat your oven to 350˚F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Using a chef’s knife (or a thin-bladed, sharp, NOT-serrated knife) cut the dough into slices about 1/4 inch thick. Truthfully, I probably make them slightly thicker, but not by much. Place the cookies about 1 inch apart onto the prepared sheet pan and bake until the edges of the cookies feel firm to the touch but have not taken on any color, 13-15 minutes.

Note: these cookies are a bit sneaky; I started to see color not on top but rather on the underside of the cookies first, and that’s how I knew to take them out of the oven. Watch your bottom edges after the 12-minute mark.

Once done, let cool on the sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer the cookies, using a metal spatula, to wire racks to cool completely. Once completely cooled, cookies can be stored between sheets of parchment paper in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. I froze, tightly wrapped and protected, for 1 week and they were great. I suspect you could freeze them for at least 2 weeks or up to 1 month.

if you do it the way I do it, you’ll get about 50 or so cookies.

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  • Reply movita beaucoup March 9, 2012 at 5:29 am

    These cookies look amazing. I would eat pistachios all day, every day, if I could. And I’m thinking if I make these cookies, I might feel the same way about them. (All day. Every day.)

    • Reply shannon March 9, 2012 at 3:02 pm

      well, warning: these are a dangerous little “oh, they’re not really that bad for you, right?” cookie. i nibbled my way through several “test cookies” without thinking about it. and they’re perfect for all day, every day. i’d eat, did eat them, for breakfast.

  • Reply Brianne March 9, 2012 at 11:28 am

    Oh, these sound delightful. Pistachios are such a treat!

    • Reply shannon March 9, 2012 at 3:04 pm

      agreed! i am a big pistachio snacker, myself. i throw them on salads quite a bit, too…they’re one of my fave nuts. These are totally for the pistachio lovers out there.

  • Reply Jen @ Juanita's Cocina March 9, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    I made some loser pistachio cookies (compared to yours) that I’m blogging on next week. Now, I stopped by your blog and I feel bad that I didn’t try harder. *sigh*

    So, in order to make myself feel better, I’m going to have to try these too.

    BTW, I bought pistachios in the shell. I’ll know better when I go buy pistachios for these cookies. It took me quite a while to shell those suckers.

    These look GORGEOUS and yummy!

    • Reply shannon March 11, 2012 at 2:58 pm

      okay, Jen, i’m sure they’re not “loser” pistachio cookies! i love your food, and i bet they were wonderful. i’ll be excited to see them, especially because you don’t see a ton of pistachio cookie recipes, and i like variety.

      until recently, i thought that was the only way you could get them (in the shell) and i was SO not interested in using them for recipes. I found them shelled in a bag a few months ago and was super excited, not only for ease of snacking, but because it takes a considerable amount of labor out of baking stuff.

  • Reply ec January 16, 2013 at 1:40 pm


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