"What cookies do you want me to include in your cookies box?" I asked sister in law earlier last week.
"Chocolate chips cookies, almond cocoa nib sticks! And something christmassy." She enthused.
Something Christmassy? I considered making the Cherry Garcia Biscotti or the Decorated Sugar Cookies. In the end, the favorite cookies slideshow that Gourmet.com put up changed my mind. Folks at Gourmet has choosen the pistachio & cranberry icebox cookies as their favorite for year 2006.
The same cookies I made for friends when that issue came out. Despite their festive appearance, the resulting cookies were quite forgetable. I didn't even blog about it then.
"Did I miss something?" I think long and hard. All I could recall, is the omitted decorative sugar in the last step. I didn't think it was a make or break factor then.
To satisfy my curiousity, I got myself a big bottle of the glittery sugar this year and sprinkled it liberally on the shaped square log before slicing and baking them. I also replaced the orange zest with lemon zest, because I always have extra lemons in the fridge.
My verdict? The pistachio & cranberry icebox cookies are totally worthy of their prime location in the packed cookies tin! The decorative sugars transformed the otherwise forgetable cookies into something seductive and memorable. It provides the crunchy sweet edges to the buttery cookies that makes them down right addictive.
If you are planning to make these cookies, learn from my mistake- don't omit the decorative sugar! And make a double batches.
Want more cookie recipes?
Cherry Garcia Biscotti
Nutella Two Tone Cookies
Decorated Sugar Cookies
Coffee Hazelnut Cookies
Hot Chocolate Cookies
Peppermint Cookie and Cream Brownie
Pistachio & Cranberry Icebox Cookies
adopted from Gourmet.com
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
zest from 1 lemon
1/2 cup shelled pistachios, roughly chopped (2 1/4 oz; not dyed red)
1/3 cup dried cranberries (1 1/4 oz)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup decorative sugar (preferably coarse)
Stir together flour, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl.
Beat together butter, granulated sugar, and zest in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in 3 batches, mixing until dough just comes together in clumps, then mix in pistachios and cranberries. Gather and press dough together, then divide into 2 equal pieces. Using a sheet of plastic wrap or wax paper as an aid, form each piece of dough into a log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Square off long sides of each log to form a bar, then chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until very firm, at least 2 hours.
Slice and bake cookies:
Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
Brush egg over all 4 long sides of bars (but not ends). Sprinkle decorative sugar on a separate sheet of parchment or wax paper and press bars into sugar, coating well.
Cut each bar crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices, rotating bar after cutting each slice to help keep square shape. (If dough gets too soft to slice, freeze bars briefly until firm.) Arrange cookies about 1/2 inch apart on lined baking sheets.
Bake cookies, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until edges are pale golden, 15 to 18 minutes total. Transfer cookies from parchment to racks using a slotted spatula and cool completely.
Dough bars can be chilled up to 3 days or frozen, wrapped in plastic wrap and then foil, 1 month (thaw frozen dough in refrigerator just until dough can be sliced).
Cookies keep in an airtight container at room temperature 5 days.