Dec 12, 2012

Pistachio Butter Crescents

First of all, my deepest thanks to all of you who took the time to leave a comment in my last post or sent me an e-mail. I wasn't planning on posting such a personal, and long, post, but it kind of wrote itself. A few words and suddenly the whole thing was there, waiting to be shared. So thank you, thank you, thank you. My days are so much richer since I started blogging.

Second of all, focusing on today's post, I can't believe this is my fourth cookie post in a row! What has gotten over me? Holiday spirit? I didn´t even know I had a lot of it. I haven't decorated a christmas tree in years, don't even own one any more. The horror, I know.

At least I baked you some buttery, nutty, melt-in-your-mouth cookies.

If you're anything like me, the word pistachio alone draws your attention. Then you find out these are nothing more than the almond butter balls, but made with pistachios and shaped like a crescent. But since these have some lemon zest and orange blossom water in it, I think they are more sophisticated and festive. Yet just as good.

Pistachios have a reputation of being expensive and hard to shell. Well, there's a truth in that, but that's why there are holiday priorities. Depends on where yours are. Or how much you love pistachios, not only in taste but also to look a that gorgeous greenish tainted food.

I don't mind shelling them, though I often buy shelled ones. They are even more expensive, but come to think of it, I never weighed the shells alone and did the math. Maybe they will turn out to be cheaper. And you would've avoided getting comfy, putting some music on and concentrating on the nail chipper business that is pistachio shelling. I might be exagerating a bit I know.
But just as hazelnuts are a bit of a work out, so are pistachios, but so worth it.

My grinder does such a good job with the pistachios that I get a flour more than a ground nut. Since it's a coffee bean grinder I can't blame it. So I chop half of the nuts by hand. 
If you do that, be careful because if you start chopping energetically you'll have pistachios flying everywhere.

I needed to get a bit creative here and try to give these little cookies all the combination of flavors I could. Citrus go very well with pistachios. And so does orange blossom water. 

So a combination was born for two reasons. I have an unopened bottle of said water that I wanted to use and in these latitudes it's a very festive flavor, used in the traditional pannettone, an italian fruit cake, that gets sold like water in the dessert around christmas time here. It's not a holiday unless you bought or someone gave you a pannettone.
And christmas time it is, so it's time to get festive.

adapted from this Almond Butter Balls recipe, by Kathleen King

The citrus and water are here very sublte, just a hint to complement the nuts.

Makes 3 to 4 dozen cookies


1 cup butter (225g), at room tº 
4 Tbs (60g) confectioners' sugar
½ teaspoon orange blossom water
Zest of ½ a small lemon
2 cups (280g) all purpose flour
¾ cup ground toasted pistachios
Extra confectioners' sugar, for coating


In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until creamy and smooth. Add zest, orange blossom water and beat well.
Add flour, 1 cup at a time and then the pistachios. Mix just until smooth.
Gather into a ball, wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 3 hours.
Preheat oven to 350º. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
Roll portions of cold dough between your palms to form balls. Place 1-inch apart on lined baking tray.
Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until they are a bit golden and cracked.
Let cool on a wire rack. Roll in some extra confectioners' sugar to coat.
These cookies freeze well unbaked. When you need them, just line them up on a parchment-lined or greased baking tray, thaw, and bake.


  1. These are heavenly, Paula! What an awesome, flavorful recipe twist on a delicious classic Christmas cookie!

  2. Actually yes.. pistachio was a key work in the post name :D These cookies look cute and addictive :)

  3. What yummy cookies. Very Christmas-y!

  4. at first glance at your picture i thought they were the greek shortbread biscuits, kourambiethes (which i ate many, many of in greece years ago) - an almond shortbread. yummo!

  5. This is my kind of cookie. I love Pistachios!

  6. My husband loves pistachios. You should see the smile on his face when I buy them. I know he would love these cookies.

  7. These are definitely a must-bake during the X'mas season over here in Germany. I love that you used pistachio in it.

  8. What a fantastic gift for Christmas time :D
    Looks awesome!

    Choc Chip Uru

  9. What a perfect cookie recipe, this is something that I'm sure I can make. I always have problems with the rolling ones, and royal icing, so this is just for me. Thanks.

  10. If I lived in your house, I would be so happy with your last four cookie recipes. On the other hand, I would probably gain some weight during the time they were available. Wonderful cookies.

  11. I can't imagine the holdays without decorations though I think this can be a very sad time of year. The cookies look great. I love that you have a variety of textures from the pistachios.

  12. This are so pretty and delicate looking! I'm between Christmas cookie bakes and will try to make these:)

  13. Wow, these look fantastic. I make something similar every year with pecans - love the idea of using pistachios instead.

  14. Wow, what a flavour combo Paula. So festive too. The touch of orange water is making me want to inhale a whole batch! I always buy shelled pistachios too. I figured they were better value but now you mention it, weight to unshelled weight value might not actually be worth it. I need to go on a discovery now and figure that out. LOL.

    Sweet 2 Eat Baking

  15. I've been all about pistachios this holiday season and these look wonderful. Love the shots in powdered sugar. Pinning!

  16. Thanks so much for sharing on our Holiday Sweets Round Up. These look amazing and I have been thinking of a cookie just like this to make. Yummy!!

  17. So cute! Thanks you shared this at my link party!

  18. These look scrumptious, Paula!! Funny, I just made a pistachio cookie that I plan on posting this week! Cookies and Christmas just go together!!

  19. I think I will be making these for Christmas. I love nut crescent cookies and this sounds like a nice change from the usual almond or pecan.

  20. Paula - how brilliant to use pistachios! These are very much like my mother's (grandmother's actually) recipe for Christmas Nut Crescents. But pistachios and orange blossom water? OMG - how amazing they must be! I will be trying them this week for Christmas - and, just for fun, I need to tell you that my orange blossom water (from India) has a picture of Neuschwanstein Castle (in Germany) on the bottle! Cute, eh? ~ David


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