Grabbing the Gusto

Deirdre Reid – Freelance Writer & Home Cook

“Two pushes, Deirdre, two pushes!”

I wish my inner kitchen coach had yelled that at me when I was working my new cookie press for the first time.

A few hours after I made these cookies, I was thinking about how to describe them for Bitten Word’s 2014 Cover to Cover Project: Holiday Cookies. I signed up to make a cookie recipe for Cover to Cover and last weekend, I received my assignment: Martha Stewart’s Pistachio Spritz Pinwheels. The first thing I did was order a cookie press because I didn’t have one and Martha said I’d need one, and you should always listen to Martha.

It was a simple recipe, but I didn’t follow a few basic baking rules:

Rule #1: Research the consequences of your substitutions.

Since I didn’t have time to order or shop around for the green gel paste the recipe called for, I bought green liquid food coloring in the baking aisle at the supermarket. I used to use gel paste all the time when I was a pastry cook so I know that a few drops, like the 3 to 5 drops in the ingredients for these cookies, are all you need for a beautiful shade of green. I also knew that I would have to add way more than 3 to 5 drops of the liquid food coloring to achieve the same green. But when the time came, I didn’t. Why? Because I was also breaking Rule #2.

Pistachio Spritz Cookies | Grabbing the Gusto

(Pale) Pistachio Spritz Cookies | Grabbing the Gusto

Rule #2: Be completely present when baking.

That’s a good rule for life too. I was rushing through the recipe because I was trying to get the cookies done so I could start my work for the day. First, I screwed up the food coloring. By the time I realized my error, the only way to fix it would have been to beat in more coloring and I didn’t want to over-beat the dough. So I resigned myself to pale cookies. Later I made another huge mistake but I didn’t catch that one until hours later.

Later that afternoon, while thinking about how to describe the cookies for the Bitten Word project, I kept thinking: 14 minutes in the oven like the recipe says is too long. I took the cookies out early but they were definitely over-baked.

And why did I have so many cookies? I had way more than the recipe’s yield of 32 and needed three sheet pans instead of two. Plus, I had to double the chocolate for the centers. Weird.

And then from the recesses of my brain, I remembered something in the recipe. Duh. “2 pushes of spritzer!” In my focus on the cookie press instructions – because I am a Virgo and sometimes fall back into the “follow the instructions” mode at the most inopportune times, like this one – I had completely overlooked Martha’s instructions. I had the Oxo cookie press booklet’s “pump lever down once” in my head so my brain didn’t even register Martha’s “2 pushes of spritzer.” I should know better than to not pay total attention when baking with Martha.

Verdict: Despite my lack of focus, these are tasty little (yeah, emphasize on little) cookies. I love the pop of pistachio and the tiny taste of chocolate. I dusted the third sheet of cookies with red sugar crystals (not the cinnamon-flavored ones) before putting them in the oven to make them more festive.

Rule #3: When you screw up, make the best of it and don’t tell anyone.

Julia would like that rule. Ok, I’m telling you about my screw up because why should a cooking blog be only about successes, right? As cooks, we’re constantly learning from our mistakes. I could toss the cookies – what a waste, can’t do it. Or I could freeze them for desperate sugar-craving times. Instead, I decided to make some vanilla cream filling and turn them into little sandwich cookies. I found the filling recipe on Sally’s Baking Addiction.

Now, they’re great. Yes, I would make them again another year without the filling to see what they should be like, but next time there will be 2 pushes.

Pistachio Spritz Cookies with Vanilla Cream Filling | Grabbing the Gusto

Pistachio Spritz Cookies with Vanilla Cream Filling | Grabbing the Gusto

Pistachio Spritz Pinwheels with Vanilla Cream Filling

You’ll need a food processor, mixer, spatula, cookie press with pinwheel or wreath disk, two baking sheets, two Silpats, cooking racks, parchment paper, and piping bag with a small tip or parchment cone or sealable plastic bags (sandwich or quart size).

Prep: 35 mins. Total time: 2 hours. Yield: makes about 32 (with two pushes).

  • 3/4 cup (3 ounces) toasted unsalted shelled pistachios – toaster ovens are great for this, toast just until they give off aroma, watch them so they don’t darken too much
  • 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 3 to 5 drops green gel-paste food color, such as leaf green – more if you’re using liquid food coloring
  • 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, melted

Pulse pistachios with 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar in a food processor until finely ground.

Preheat oven to 350. With a mixer on medium speed, beat butter with the remaining 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down bowl when necessary. Beat in extracts and food color. Reduce speed to low; add flour, salt, and pistachio mixture and beat until just combined. Add 3 tablespoons water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until dough is smooth and pliable (so it will push through press).

Divide dough in half; spoon half into a cookie press fitted with a pinwheel design. Press cookies (2 pushes of spritzer), 1 inch apart, onto a baking sheet lined with a nonstick baking mat. Repeat with remaining dough and another lined baking sheet.

Bake, rotating sheets once, until edges are pale golden, about 14 minutes. Let cookies cool on sheets 1 minute, then transfer to a wire rack covered with parchment paper (to catch the chocolate later); let cool completely.

Place melted chocolate in a small piping bag fitted with a small writing tip, or a resealable plastic bag with a corner snipped off. It’s easier to fill the bag if you sit it in a cup with its sides folded down. Pipe chocolate in the center of each cookie and let set, about 1 hour. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container, between sheets of parchment or waxed paper, up to 1 week.

Recipe: Pistachio Spritz Pinwheels, Martha Stewart

Vanilla Cream Filling

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt, as needed

Beat butter for about 1 minute until creamy. Add the powdered sugar and mix on medium speed for 1-2 minutes. Pour in heavy cream and vanilla extract. Mix on high for 3-4 minutes until fluffy. Taste and add a pinch of salt, as needed. If the filling is way too thick, add a teaspoon more of heavy cream. Pipe or spread cream filling on the bottom side of half of the cookies. Top with the remaining cookies, right side up.

Recipe is part of Homemade Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies, Sally’s Baking Addiction

6 thoughts on “Pistachio Spritz Cookies with Vanilla Cream Filling

    1. deirdrereid says:

      I’m eating one as I type this. They’re addictive that way — yes, they are.

  1. mydearbakes says:

    Fantastic! Thumbs up for this bake! =D

  2. Mom2jeb says:

    I am so happy I stumbled across your recipe. I’ve been looking for something like it for a long time. The coffee shop at our local hospital has them occasionally and ever since we first tried them we’ve been searching for a recipe. (About 4 years) Thankyou!! I can’t wait to make them. I’m going to surprise my mom-in-law with them when she comes up for Turkey day. 🙂

    1. deirdrereid says:

      That makes me so happy, I know what it’s like to be on a culinary web hunt. Just make sure to keep my lessons in mind, i.e., listen to Martha Stewart. It’s her recipe and I messed up by not paying full attention to her masterful instructions.

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