pistachio pinwheels

Can you believe we’ve already made it to our 45th bake from Claire Saffitz’s Dessert Person? It feels like we just started this little project of ours, and yet somehow we are almost halfway through the book. The Bars & Cookies chapter continues to be filled with delicious little treats; this week’s cookies were the Pistachio Pinwheels.

Lauren’s Take

Hello all! Can I just say how much I’m loving this Bars & Cookies chapter? Although a part of me does miss the tedious, time management focused bakes of the past (and the future), there truly is something to be said about being able to bake something in the moment, no real planning needed.

These Pistachio Pinwheels definitely fit the bill! The only snag this time was finding blanched, shelled pistachios that were green enough to make a pronounced swirl in the cookie. I made the mistake of sending my boyfriend to find them when he went grocery shopping, and he returned with a huge bag of un-blanched, un-shelled pistachios (A for effort Ben!). I was able to find them at my local bulk barn though!

Once you have all the ingredients, putting this cookie together is fairly simple. You are essentially making two doughs; one with ground pistachio and one without. The first dough is made by combining flour, almond flour, butter, powdered sugar, egg yolks, and almond extract in the food processor. You then roll it out into a 12×8 rectangle and let it chill. The second dough uses the same base as the first, but you add ground pistachio to it to make it green and leave it at room temperature.

Once the first dough is chilled, you spread the second dough all across the base dough, leaving a 1/2 inch border along the outside. The dough is then rolled up into a log and chilled for about an hour. Once firm, you remove the log from the fridge, roll it in Demerara sugar (I used my trusty dark brown again), and then cut them into 32 equal pieces!

 

Cutting the log was a very satisfying part as it exposed the really cool, bright green swirl within each cookie. The cookies are baked for about 15-20 minutes until golden brown on the outside. This time, I trusted my nose when they were done and not the timer! And it worked! I definitely did not over or under bake these.

 

Aesthetically, this is such a beautiful cookie and will be perfect for the holidays. They are not overly sweet and have that essential buttery texture that you want in a shortbread cookie. Initially, you don’t get hit with the pistachio flavour right away, but it leaves a perfect after taste in your mouth. Really good cookie…nothing spectacular that leaves you wanting to eat one after another, but pretty delicious all the same. 3.5 stars from me!

Julia’s Take

Welcome back to another Sunday baking post! The Pistachio Pinwheels were one of the first recipes from the book that I learned about because Claire put out a YouTube video with NYT Cooking around the holidays last year, shortly after the book was published and right before I got it for Christmas. Watching her make these pretty little cookies made me even more excited to snag my copy and get baking myself!

The process was fun and simple once again this week. Everything is combined in a food processer, which I love—the less bowls to clean up, the better if you ask me! There are two different doughs created for this cookie, one that is primarily almond and the other that brings the pistachio flavour and colour. The base of each is your typical shortbread cookie: flour, butter, powdered sugar, and egg yolks. You then take about two thirds of this shortbread base and add almond flour and almond extract to it, roll it out into a rectangle between two pieces of parchment paper, and then let it chill and firm up in the fridge for about 15 minutes.

While the almond dough chills, the ground pistachios are added to the rest of the base dough. I was able to find shelled pistachios, but they were not blanched so I was worried my spiral wouldn’t come out as green as it needed to be. I decided to add some green food colouring to the pistachio dough and this worked out really well!

Once the pistachio dough comes together, it is spread over the chilled rectangle and everything is rolled up into a log. For some reason, the almond dough started to warm up really quickly and got super soft as I was starting to roll. I think it probably could have stayed in the fridge another 10 minutes at least. Even though I wasn’t able to get as tight a roll as I wanted, the log still formed just fine, and then sat in the fridge for an hour to firm up again.

The best part of this recipe by far was slicing the cookies! Once the log is removed from the fridge, it is rolled in our good ol’ trusty Demerara sugar (has there been a single recipe in this book that HASN’T called for Demerara sugar??), and then sliced evenly. Based on how horribly my roll seemed to go, I did not think I would get tight spirals, but I was so pleasantly surprised when I saw those pretty green swirls in the centre of each cookie!

The cookies bake for 15-20 minutes—my first batch stayed in for 16 minutes and they were just a touch dark, so I kept the rest in for 14 and they were must better. I would say I found them a little more almond-forward than pistachio flavoured, but still nutty and delicious. The overbaked ones definitely came out a little dry, but overall you get that wonderfully soft shortbread texture that you want from a cookie like this. Maybe if we hadn’t just made the palmiers and the brownies, which were so unreal, I’d rate these slightly higher, but it would have to be a 3.5 star bake from me. These cookies are going to be perfect for Christmas!

Coming up next week: Chewy Molasses Spice Cookies!

plum galette with polenta & pistachios

This week brings us recipes 20 and 21 from Claire Saffit’z Dessert Person—our first attempt at the Flaky All-Butter Pie Dough (another one of the Foundational Recipes in the book), which is then used to bake our second recipe from the Pies and Tarts chapter, the Plum Galette with Polenta and Pistachios.

Lauren’s Take

**check back tomorrow for Lauren’s updates. She’s been very busy delivering babies this week!**

Julia’s Take

Welcome back, friends! Here in Ontario, it feels like summer is already in full swing. My garden is planted, the heat and the sun make me feel like a new human, and I’m just counting down the days until I wrap up teaching for the year and get a few weeks of down time after a super chaotic year. I’m looking forward to watching my plants thrive, camping trips, beach days, picnics, and hopefully long-overdue catch-ups with friends as we (hopefully!) start to come out on the other side of this pandemic; I’m also looking forward to all the new recipes we get to experiment with in the upcoming months! What excites me most about working through this next chapter in the book is not only all of the different flavours and types of produce we get to use this summer, but also that most of the Pies and Tarts recipes require multiple bakes within the full bake itself. This means we’re getting to work more with different doughs and test out a variety of techniques.

This week, the Foundational Recipe was Claire’s Flaky All-Butter Pie dough. There’s nothing better than a really crispy pie dough so I couldn’t wait to try Claire’s take on this—and it totally delivered! The process is pretty standard from what I could tell (I’m no pie expert…): mix together flour and cubes of cold butter with your fingers until it’s combined, and then drizzle in ice water to help the dough come together. Claire’s recipe calls for butter to be added in two ways—the standard cubes as well as thinner slices. The idea is that the cubes are broken down into pea-size pieces with the flour, while the slices stay slightly larger so that you sort of have shards of butter scattered in throughout the dough for extra flakiness. Once the dough comes together, it’s wrapped up and sits in the fridge for 4 hours. This would normally be the time to roll out the chilled dough and prepare to bake, but Claire recommends an optional extra step of rolling out the dough and doing an envelope fold before letting it sit another 30 minutes. The folding technique means that you’re creating even more flaky layers within your crust so that it almost becomes a hybrid of pie crust and laminated dough (which you’d use for danishes or croissants). Who doesn’t want more flakiness?!

The only issue I had with my dough was that it gets wrapped up and chilled as a square but the recipe asks you to roll it out into a circle. I’m no geometry wiz and so trying to turn a square into a circle was slightly challenging; I ended up with more of a rectangle with a couple of rounded edges. Ultimately, as long as the surface of the dough is large enough to hold your filling, I don’t think the shape matters much—but I will definitely be practicing my rolling techniques this summer.

The filling of the galette came together really easily because it didn’t involve any cooking. The plums are cut in half (or into smaller slices depending on their size); shelled pistachios are toasted for a few minutes in the oven; and then cornmeal, cornstarch, sugar, and the chopped-up toasted pistachios are mixed together. The recipe calls for either polenta or cornmeal (I don’t think there’s really any difference between these two things from what I’ve read); I already had a big bag of corn flour in my house and since the filling only requires 2 tablespoons, I didn’t think it was worth it to buy a whole new bag of something. Corn flour is ground up more finely than cornmeal, so I’m sure there was a slight texture difference, but ultimately I think it was pretty subtle and worked out fine.

I was skeptical about the addition of cornmeal/corn flour in the recipe, but as usual the finished product was something surprisingly delicious. The corn flour/sugar/pistachio mixture gets sprinkled evenly over the rolled-out pie dough, and then it’s topped with the plums and a drizzle of honey. You leave an inch or so border of dough, which then gets folded up over the filling on all sides, pinched together, and covered in an egg wash. The crust and filling are all sprinkled with a bit more sugar and then the galette bakes. What you end up getting from the seemingly random cornmeal is such an interesting combination of textures: the crispy, flaky crust, followed by a smooth, sweet, and also crunchy later from the cornmeal and pistachios, and then the super jammy plums on top. A total winner!

My main criticism is that, like several of the recipes so far, the bake times seemed a bit off. The book says to turn the oven temp to 425 and bake the galette for 45-55 minutes. This seemed way too hot to me, but I went with it and, sure enough, after about half an hour my crust was already edging on burnt. Luckily, Lauren had made this recipe a couple of days before me and had warned me to keep a close eye, and since my plums seemed cooked down enough, I just took the galette out of the oven after about 35 minutes. Next time I make this, I’ll likely turn down the temperature so the plums have a chance to cook down a little bit more before the crust becomes totally inedible.

Temperature issues aside, I absolutely loved both the process and the end result of this bake. It looked beautiful, and the flavours and textures were so incredible. 4.5 stars from me!

Next week we’ll be baking the Pistachio Linzer Tart. See you then!