Christmas Cookie no 1: Pistachio Apricot Ice Box Cookies

I do Christmas cookies every year. I do them pretty seriously for my friends, colleagues, employers, postal workers, and I know they are appreciated. After 6 years off practicing baking en mass I know how to make a lot of cookies without losing my cool.

This year I decided not to do any of my regular cookie recipes. I trust my skills, kitchen, and ingredient knowledge. I have a mental picture and flavor palette of exactly how I want my Christmas cookies to be. I want my Christmas cookies to include all the flavors, sizes, colors, and shapes that amplifies everything that I find wonderful about the holidays. To repeat myself, I take this seriously.

Lots of fussy roll and cut out cookies did not make my final Christmas cookie list. A few did. Instead I thought I would try one "ice box cookie" recipe. Ice box cookies are a basic vanilla/shortbread cookie dough, shape it into a log, rectangle (or here) triangle; freeze; slice; and bake. Its a very easy way to control the quantity of cookies you are baking over time, making economical use of the freezer. This recipe is based on Martha Stewart's version. Follow it to a tee. It works.

The bonus is you can add flavors, ingredients for color and texture, roll the outside in decorated sugar, dip in chocolate, sandwich with a filling, or about a million other techniques for personalizing the finished cookies. The bonus bonus is that your making your own version of a tube of cookie dough. Having a tough week with work/love/life? Pull out a tube of dough and eat your way out of that funk. No, really please don't do that. Go for a bike ride or something.

So! This all fits in great with my larger cookie plan. I chose to make triangles because they're different, and add pistachios and apricots for a festive sprinkle of confetti color. I can also make them about 2 weeks in advance knowing they will be safe in the freezer. Enough baking philosophy, and more cookies.

Pistachio Apricot Ice Box Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, cut into chunks
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups flour
3/4 cups pistachios, chopped
3/4 cups dried apricots, finely diced

Place butter and sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer. Beat on high for 5-7 minutes until butter is fluffy and pale yellow/white-ish. Add egg, vanilla, salt and banking powder. Beat on high for another 2 minutes. Add two cups of flour and mix until half combine on low speed. Add the remaining cup of flour and and mix until mostly combine. Remove bowl from the mixer. Add pistachios and apricots and mix by hand until barely combine. Its better to see a few flecks of flour than to over mix.

Cookie dough pyramid logs

You should be left with some very soft, slightly sticky dough. Place two long sheets of wax paper side by side on your counter top. Empty the dough from the bowl on to one of the sheets. Cut the dough in half and slide to the other sheets of wax paper. Now is the fun part. Gently shape the dough into a log. With the help of the wax paper mold the log into a triangle, or even a rectangle if you're feeling like it. The cookie dough log will be about 12 inches long, maybe a little bigger. Wrap the dough tightly and freeze until you're ready to bake. An extra layer of foil or plastic bag will help your dough stay fresher in the freezer.

No need to defrost when you're ready to bake. Preheat the oven to 350. Slice 1/4 inch cookies off the roll, and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake about 10 minutes until lightly browned on the edges.

You should get about 8-10 dozen cookies from your logs.


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