Earlier this year, I discovered the most amazing Italian bakery. It's not exactly well-kept secret or anything. In fact, it's probably one of the best-known Italian bakeries in town.
But it's new to me because it's literally on the other side of the city, and taking an hour-long trip on transit just to get cookies felt a little excessive.
Now that just leaving the house feels like a special occasion, though, shlepping to the other side of town for cookies feels more like a grand adventure than a chore. So off we went on our adventure on a sunny summer Saturday, and grabbed a box of assorted cookies to reward ourselves.
I'm always the first to admit when I was wrong. And boy howdy, was I ever wrong. Now that I know what I've been missing, not only would I happily take a trip across town for these cookies, I think I could probably be convinced to trek to the other side of the province.
But for those of you who may not be willing to go to such lengths for a cookie, I'm sharing a recipe inspired by that Italian bakery today. It's not quite as amazing, but on the bright side, you won't have to travel further than your own kitchen to get them.
This year, I want to help you get into the holiday spirit with a little something I'm calling the 12 Days of Christmas Cookies.
From December 14 to 25, I'm posting a new holiday cookie recipe each day. Did you miss one? You can catch up on my Christmas Cookies page.
A Holiday Classic, Upgraded
Amaretti are traditionally made with ground almonds, which gives them a texture and flavour similar to marzipan. (Intrigued? Check out my traditional soft amaretti recipe.)
But in Sicily, they sometimes use pistachios instead, which is positively genius. This clever twist on the classic has the same delicately crunchy exterior that gives way to a soft, chewy middle, but the pistachios give them an intensely nutty flavour and a hint of green that feels perfectly festive for this time of year.
If you want to get a really noticeable green colour, you can splurge on Iranian pistachios which are a much more vibrant green than the regular supermarket variety, or you can add a drop or two of blue food colouring. But as you can see, even the shelled pistachios from my local bulk store were enough to get a subtle shade of green without any added colouring.
More Deliciously Nutty Cookies for the Holidays
Let's be honest... is any holiday cookie assortment complete without a nutty option or two? Here are a few favourites to try out:
- Pistachio-Cardamom Icebox Cookies from Crumb
- Lemon, Ginger and Pistachio Biscotti from Crumb
- Chocolate and Hazelnut Skillet Cookie from Cravings of a Lunatic
- Brown Butter Hazelnut Sugar Cookies from Nutmeg Nanny
- Gluten-Free Almond Cookies from It's Not Complicated Recipes
- Texas Sheet Cake Cookies from Erhardts Eat
Traditionally, amaretti cookies are made with almonds, but this version uses ground pistachios for a naturally festive green colour and delicious nutty flavour.
- 2 cups finely ground pistachios
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 2 large egg whites
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ tsp almond extract
- ½ cup icing sugar
- Preheat oven to 300F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, stir together the ground pistachios, sugar, and cornstarch until combined.
- In a second bowl, whisk the egg whites and salt until foamy and just shy of forming soft peaks. Whisk in the almond extract. Add the dry ingredients and stir until everything comes together into a soft, sticky dough, kneading with your hands if necessary.
- Using a tablespoon measure, scoop out the dough and roll into 1-inch balls, dusting your hands with icing sugar as needed to keep the dough from sticking. Arrange on prepared baking sheets, spacing the balls 1 inch apart.
- Let the cookies rest for 15 minutes while the oven finishes preheating, then bake for 20-22 minutes or until the tops are crackled and dry. Let cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool off completely. Store the cooled cookies in airtight containers until ready to eat – they’ll keep up to 2 weeks, assuming you don’t polish them off in one sitting.
Make Your Own Ground Pistachios: Pulse unsalted pistachios in a food processor until finely chopped, stopping every so often to scrape the sides and mix things around. Run through a wire mesh sieve to remove any large chunks that you might have missed. (Just make sure not to get too enthusiastic with the food processor, or else you’ll end up with pistachio butter instead!)
- Prep Time: 20 mins
- Cook Time: 20 mins
- Category: Cookies
- Method: Baked
- Cuisine: Italian