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September 28, 2020

Pistachio cookies | The Mixing Bowl

These pretty, spongy, golden-green cookies made from ground pistachios are just sweet enough. The recipe is from Nicole Malik at 

Pistachio nuts still seem special to me even though these days they are easy to find and mostly affordable. They are best when crunchy so if you’ve had some sitting in the cupboard for a while, this is a good way to use them up. 

Some of you may remember when pistachios came in small long packages with dyed red shells. Since most of the nuts came from the Middle East at that time, the red dye was a way of hiding some of the blotches on the shells, according to Anne Ewbank’s story, “America’s Pistachio Industry Came from a Single Seed.” California’s pistachio business grew from a small niche industry in the late 1970s after the United States placed a retaliatory embargo on Iranian products after Iranian college students, protesting America’s support of the monarchy of the Shah, stormed the American Embassy in Tehran. The Iranian Revolution ensued and the current Islamic Republic was established in 1979. Iran continues to grow pistachios as it has for the last 8,700 years is now the world’s largest producer of pistachios, followed by the U.S. 

The measurements below may seem awkward; I had to convert metric measurements to the U.S. Customary System of Units to fit the American kitchen. Even after The Metric Conversion Act was passed by the U.S. government in 1975, the country still hasn‘t universally adopted the metric system and remains the only country in the world except for Liberia and Myanmar who haven’t. I purchased a battery-operated kitchen scale with ounces and grams to help me make the conversions.

The recipe also called for caster sugar, also called castor sugar, superfine or baker’s sugar. It is a more finely ground white sugar, but not as fine as confectioners’ sugar, and blends in easier and more efficiently than “regular” white sugar. It’s easy to make by putting white sugar in a blender or food processor and running for a minute or two until the sugar grains become finer.

Pistachio cookies

1 1/2 cup shelled pistachios

¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons white sugar ground in the blender or food processor

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon plain flour

3 egg whites

1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar

Preheat the oven to 320 degrees and lightly butter two cookie tins or line them with parchment baking paper. Process regular white sugar for a very short time in a blender until it becomes fine, but not powdery. Set aside in a small bowl. 

Place 1 1/4 cups of the pistachios in the same food processor and mix just until finely ground. Make sure you don’t turn it into pistachio butter.

Place the ground pistachios, ¼ cup of the caster sugar and the flour in a large bowl. Whisk to combine.

Place the egg whites into the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until soft peaks form. Add the remaining caster sugar gradually and beat a little longer. Fold the egg whites into the pistachio mixture and stir carefully just until well combined. You want to keep the batter fluffy. Place heaped teaspoons on the baking trays. Chop the remaining pistachios and sprinkle over the top of the cookies.

Bake for 12 minutes or until lightly golden and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Dust with confectioners’ sugar if desired. Makes about two dozen cookies. 


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