Dreaming of a Sweet Christmas

No amount of planning ever seems to leave me properly prepared for the holidays, despite mustering all the enthusiasm possible and diligently keeping an eye on the calendar. Days mysteriously grow shorter, schedules fuller, and to further complicate matters, those originally simple plans of mine curiously evolve to become more and more complicated. Getting a head start usually means laying out a detailed list of presents to make, recipes to try, and fun activities to participate in… Which is lost or completely disregarded by the time December actually rolls around. After spending one too many of the last mailing days before Christmas stuck in line at the post office, fighting off the other hordes of procrastinators frantic to make the final cut off, it became clear that my approach wasn’t working.

This year, the plan is to plan less. Stick to simple but nice holiday cards, rather than elaborate gifts with complicated shipping requirements and deadlines. Make whatever recipes strike my fancy, whenever that might happen. Enjoy the holidays whenever they allow, without forcing artificial merriment at every turn. “Low-key” is the mantra of the season- No pressure, no anxiety, no self-flagellation when things don’t work out perfectly. Sounds like a much more enjoyable way to pass the next few weeks, don’t you think?

And just like that, I find myself almost on top of the key points that constantly evaded my grasp the previous year. Greeting cards are done and printing, and the first set of festive sweets has already sprung forth from the oven, seemingly without effort. It may be a push to fit that pending manuscript into the festivities, but at least it doesn’t seem like such a great burden to squeeze into the jam-packed holiday game plan.

It needn’t be a grand holiday, or one to remember above others, even. It just needs to be less than torturous, and adding in a bit of sweetness and good company would be a nice touch, too.

Yield: Makes 52 – 60 Cookies; 26 – 30 Sandwiches

Pistachio Praline Linzer Cookies

Pistachio Praline Linzer Cookies

Caramelized pistachio cream is sandwiched between two crisp shortbread cookies, seen through cut-out windows frosted with coarse sugar. They're as beautiful to look at as they are satisfying to eat.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Additional Time 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes

Ingredients

Pistachio Praline Paste:

  • 1 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1/4 Cup Water
  • 2 Cups Shelled, Skinned and Toasted Pistachios
  • 3/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

Linzer Cookies:

  • 1 Cup Vegan Butter
  • 1/4 Cup Dark Brown Sugar, Firmly Packed
  • 1/3 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 2 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Almond Meal
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • Zest of 1 Orange
  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Ginger
  • 1/3 Cup Vegan Sour Cream
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Instructions

  1. To prepare the pistachio praline, place the sugar and water in a medium saucepan over moderate heat. Stir to combine, and bring to a boil. Allow the sugar to cook until it caramelizes to a deep amber color; about 10 – 15 minutes.
  2. Quickly add in the pistachios, stir to coat with the hot sugar, and immediately
    transfer everything out to a silpat or piece of parchment paper. Let cool completely before breaking it into chunks, and tossing the pieces into your food processor, along with the salt and oil.
  3. Pulse to break down the brittle to a coarse consistency, and then let the motor run until very smooth. It may take as long as 10 minutes, so be patient. Let cool before using, or store in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to two weeks.
  4. For the cookies, preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line three baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper. Set aside.
  5. Cream together the butter and both sugars until homogeneous and fluffy, pausing to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the flour, almond meal, baking powder, salt, zest, and ginger, starting the mixer slowly to prevent the dry goods from flying out. Mix briefly before introducing the sour cream and vanilla as well. Mix just until a cohesive, smooth dough is formed.
  6. Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Press the dough into an even round and roll it out to 1/8th of an inch in thickness. Use a 2 1/2 inch round cookie cutter to cut out the shapes.
  7. Cut out the centers of half of the rounds with a smaller shape of your choice. Transfer the cookies to your prepared sheets, and chill them for 15 minutes before moving them right into the oven.
  8. Bake for 10 – 15 minutes, until just barely golden around the edges. Let cool.
  9. Assemble the linzer cookies by spreading 1 teaspoon of the praline paste on a whole cookie, and topping it with a cut-out cookie. Repeat with remaining cookies, and enjoy.

Notes

For a quick fix, you can mix 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar with pistachio butter for the filling, or use prepared vegan nutella for a chocolate twist.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

30

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 155Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 16mgSodium: 149mgCarbohydrates: 20gFiber: 1gSugar: 11gProtein: 2g

All nutritional information presented within this site are intended for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and any nutritional information on BitterSweetBlog.com should only be used as a general guideline. This information is provided as a courtesy and there is no guarantee that the information will be completely accurate. Even though I try to provide accurate nutritional information to the best of my ability, these figures should still be considered estimations.

Bonus! For a gift that keeps on giving, nothing beats a delicious, tried-and-true recipe from a friend. To share this recipe with someone you love, snatch up the free printable recipe card below. Just set your printer to “scale to fit” your paper, trim the excess as needed, fold down the center, and doodle something on the cover, or paste a photo if you prefer.

41 thoughts on “Dreaming of a Sweet Christmas

  1. Nicely said. When we take the pressure off, we tend to get things done anyway, and we are more pleasant to be around. With any special occasion, I find it is our own elevated expectations that lead to disappointment, especially with Christmas. I want to focus on family and fun this year.

  2. I’ve being craving for pistachio filling/frosting for a while now (baby desires maybe?) and this recipe sounds delicious, I must try it!

  3. Oooh, these cookies look so good! I definitely need to try that praline paste…I’ve never made praline with pistachios but it sounds SO good! :)

  4. What a nice change to the oh so traditional linzer cookie! The pistachio praline sounds amazing, I’d probably just eat that on its own!

  5. these cookies look so super cute.. and i love pistachios and green:) and such a lovely picture too. i can never work under time pressure.. i am a freak out coz theres a deadline kind of person:)

  6. There is really nothing worse and nothing so unholiday-esque as a forced holiday. I’m totally with you on this! just let it happen…and it will.

    Linzers are one of my FAVORITE holiday cookies. And I love pistachio, to boot! You have made my holiday season with these!

  7. Dear me. I’ve never been into Linzer-type cookies as I’m not a huge fan of jam-related sweets, but PISTACHIOS. PRALINE. *licks screen*

    P.S. Congratulations on conquering the holiday season this year! I am woman, hear me roar! :D

  8. O yes that burden of the holiday planning. Looking at my calendar last night I saw that it is pretty much packed so that means I cannot escape any planning or it will be total chaos. Lol. Love your pretty Christmas sweets!

  9. Low key sounds like the perfect plan to me! Oh and those linzers look fantastic – why didn’t I ever think of putting praline paste in the middle of mine!

  10. I am completely on board with your approach to the holidays this year! It’s so much more enjoyable.

    Your cookies are beautiful, Hannah! I love pistachio and incorporating them into Lindzer cookies is brilliant.

  11. I’m all with you about the low-key holiday, but I’m also all about some cookie makin’ and those pistachio linzers look fantastic!

  12. I agree, your low key strategy sounds perfect. :) I’m usually stressing out about everything too, not fun. These cookies are so cute! I love the green.

  13. It happens that I forget a lot about cookies as Christmasy treats, and when looking at your picture (maybe the decoration around are part of this impression) it seems almost obvious that the end of the year is also a time when one makes little goodies and not only big large icy cakes.
    I definitely like the idea of leaving a star “window” to show the Pistachio filling – and what a good choice it was to pick Pistachio. I never really tried to do anything sweet with it. Just putting them in cookies, as one would use Chocoalte chips.
    I should try it though to see how I like it !

    1. Nope, it should roll out fairly easily even without refrigeration. Just don’t handle it too much or let it get overheated. Only if it seems fussy or particularly difficult to work with should it be briefly chilled, but even then, it shouldn’t need more than 15 minutes at the most. Happy baking!

  14. Thanks for the reply. I want my linzers to retain their “cut” shape. What does the baking powder do? Will it make the cookies puff up or spread during baking? And thanks for the pistachio praline paste recipe. It is highly expensive to buy online.

    1. The baking powder won’t make it puff so much that the cookies loose their shape- Just check out the photo for reference. It simply makes them a bit lighter and not quite so tough on the teeth.

      1. :-)) Your photos always tease me to bake. It’s just the fear of “rolled out” stuff that I always have – be it cookies, pies etc. I never can get it evenly rolled out. My sugar cookies have always somewhat thick on one side and thinner on the other. Thanks for the reply. I will SURELY make it and let you know.

      2. I’m more than happy to provide that temptation, any time! ;) These should be relatively low-fuss rolled cookies, so they’re likely a good place to start. If you’re worried about getting the dough to an even thickness, you might want to break it up into two or three equal pieces, and roll one section at a time. It’s usually easier to manage and keep flat if you work with less, and need to cover less area.

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