Among those I enjoy the most is the making and baking of desserts and treats for parties, gift giving and well, in all honesty, just to feed my face.
The holidays are my yearly excuse to throw all dietary caution to the wind and break out the butter, flour, sugar, eggs and whatever else is necessary to make batches and batches of my favorite indulgences.
And everyone loves them.
Not all of my favorite cookie recipes have nuts in them, but I absolutely cherish a number of them that do. Adding a couple of these into your cookie mix this year might just add some extra holiday cheer for all those who try them.
The nut cookie recipes I’ll share with you feature these nuts (in order): pecans, almonds and pistachios.
My first recipe, using pecans, is one that I first started baking in the late 60s, even before I went off to cooking school. It’s a no-egg recipe, resulting in a very light and tender cookie FULL of pecan flavor.
Pecan Balls: Makes about 24 – 1” Cookies
8 oz (2 Sticks) Salted Butter
2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
2 Cups Pecan Pieces, Finely Ground
¼ tsp Ground Cinnamon
2 tsp PURE Vanilla Extract
¼ tsp Salt
½ Cup Granulated Sugar
1 Cup Powdered Sugar
Mix all ingredients (EXCEPT POWDERED SUGAR) together in a food processor until just uniformly mixed.
Wrap dough in waxed paper or plastic wrap and chill.
Roll dough into 1-inch balls and space 2 inches apart on a lightly greased cookie sheet.
Bake cookies in a pre-heated 375 F oven about 15 minutes or until cookies look cracked on the surface and are golden brown.
Allow cookies to fully cool, and then roll in powdered sugar. Serve.
Cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.
Crispy Almond Cookies: Makes 24 Cookies
This recipe is somewhat similar to a recipe called Chinese Almond Cookies with the exception that my recipe uses ground almonds instead of almond paste and sliced almonds on top instead of one whole almond. All in all, I personally like this recipe because it has more almond flavor. Another option for this cookie is to drizzle the finished cookies with semi-sweet chocolate coating.
1 ¾ Cups All-purpose flour
1 tsp Cream of tartar
1/8 tsp Salt
½ Cup Shortening (such as Crisco)
¾ Cup Granulated sugar
2 Extra Large Eggs
1 ½ tsp Warm water
1 ½ tsp Baking soda
½ tsp Almond extract
2 TBSP Milk
½ Cup Ground almonds
½ Cup Sliced almonds
In a large bowl, cream together the shortening and sugar.
Separate the eggs and refrigerate the whites.
Mix the egg yolks and almond extract into the creamed shortening and sugar.
Dissolve the baking soda in the water, and stir into the creamed mixture along with the milk.
Combine the flour, cream of tartar and salt; gradually stir into the sugar mixture.
Stir in the ground almonds.
Roll the dough into a log about 1 ½ inches in diameter.
Wrap in waxed paper and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Cut the dough into ¼ inch thick slices and place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
Brush each cookie with beaten egg whites, and then sprinkle with the sliced almonds and sugar.
Bake for approximately 12 minutes or until lightly colored.
Let cool on wire racks.
My last recipe is almost like a classic Tollhouse Chocolate Chip cookie recipe, except the garnishments are white chocolate chips, sun-dried cherries, caramel pieces (cut from wrapped caramels), and of course, pistachios. I personally think caramel, sun-dried cherries and pistachios are natural partners.
Caramel Cherry Pistachio Cookies: Makes about 24 – 2” cookies
3/4 Cup Salted butter, softened
3/4 Cup Light brown sugar, packed
1/4 Cup granulated sugar
1 Extra-large egg, at room temperature
2 tsp Vanilla extract
2 Cups All-purpose flour
2 tsp Cornstarch
1 tsp Baking soda
½ tsp Salt
1/3 Cup White chocolate chips
1/3 Cup Caramels, cut into 1/4 “ x 1/4” pieces
3/4 Cup Sun-dried cherries
½ Cup Shelled pistachios
In a large bowl, using a handheld mixer or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter for about 1 minute on medium speed until completely smooth and creamy.
Add the brown sugar and granulated sugar, and mix on medium-high speed until fluffy and light in color.
Beat in egg and vanilla on high speed. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt together until combined. On low speed, slowly mix into the wet ingredients until combined. The cookie dough will be quite thick.
Add the white chocolate chips, sun-dried cherries, caramel pieces, and pistachios.
Mix on low for about 5 to 10 seconds until evenly disbursed.
Cover dough tightly with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days. Chilling is mandatory for this cookie dough.
Preheat oven to 350F.
Remove cookie dough from the refrigerator and allow to sit at room temperature for 10 minutes.
Line baking pans with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
Knead the stiff dough for one minute and then scoop and roll balls of dough, about 1 Tablespoon of dough each, into balls.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until barely golden brown around the edges. They will look extremely soft when you remove them from the oven.
Allow to cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet. If the cookies are too puffy, try gently pressing down on them with the back of a fork.