It is my turn to host Project Pastry Queen this week. Since my pick fell just after Thanksgiving, and I LOVE Christmas cookies, I chose Snow-Tipped Sand Tarts. Living in Texas, this is the closest I will come to a white Christmas!!
This is an easy recipe - only 6 ingredients and no need to let the dough chill. The cookies turned out festive as well as delicious. You will need to use your stand mixer because the dough gets pretty stiff at the end. The hardest thing was chopping up the pistachios. Don't try to chop them in a food processor, they end up too fine. Also, don't use ones that are already shelled - they are too salty and dark from roasting. The pistachios you shell yourself retain their pretty green color. I relied upon one of my favorite kitchen tools: an "Ulu"! This was a gift to us from my husband's parents that they brought back from an Alaskan cruise. Similar to an Italian mezzeluna, it does wonders on herbs & nuts.
The recipe calls for rolling the dough into 2" long, 1/2" logs. After the first batch, I felt they were a bit small. I changed that to 2 1/2" long, 3/4" logs and still ended up with more than 5 dozen cookies. After the cookies have cooled, they are dipped in white chocolate and rolled in chopped pistachios. For optional color, I also chopped up some dried cranberries. Be careful with the white chocolate - it has a very low melting point. The bowl your chocolate is in should not touch the water AND make sure the water is simmering, NOT boiling away madly. Otherwise it will turn into a globby mess!
I wasn't sure if I was going to dust the sand tarts with powdered sugar, but I am glad I did. Here are some before pictures:
These are sure to become a family favorite. I definitely recommend dusting them with powdered sugar. I wasn't sure it would stick after the cookies had cooled, but it did! ENJOY!!
Be sure and check out the other members' version of the Sand Tarts here:
Snow-Tipped Sand Tarts:
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups powdered sugar, plus extra for dusting (optional)
2 tablespoons almond extract
4 cups all purpose flour
3 cups shelled, coarsely chopped pistachio nuts
8 ounces white chocolate
(I also use 1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries)
Preheat the oven to 325° F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats, or grease generously with butter or cooking spray. Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and the 1 1/3 cups powdered sugar in a large bowl on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the almond extract and beat until combined. Stir in the flour until combined. Stir in 2 cups of the pistachios. (I used 1 1/2 cups).
Roll the dough into 2-inch-long, 1/2-inch logs (I did 2 1/2"-long, 3/4" logs) and shape each log into a crescent. Arrange the crescents on the prepared baking sheets about 1 inch apart. (They spread minimally.) Bake for 20 minutes, just until light golden brown. Cool the cookies for 15 to 20 minutes before removing from the baking sheet. Transfer to racks to cool completely.
Chop the white chocolate coarsely and place it in a medium bowl set over a saucepan with 2 inches of simmering water. Stir until the chocolate has melted. Dip the end of each cooled cookie in the melted white chocolate and immediately roll the chocolate-covered part in the remaining 1 cup pistachios (and/or chopped, dried cranberries). Place the dipped cookies on waxed paper. Use a small fine-mesh sieve to sprinkle powdered sugar over the portion of the cookies that have not been dipped in chocolate.
The chocolate will harden in about 45 minutes at room temperature or 10 minutes in the refrigerator. The cookies will keep in an airtight container about 4 days.