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.
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
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- For the cookies, preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line three baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper. Set aside.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Bake for 10 – 15 minutes, until just barely golden around the edges. Let cool.
- 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.
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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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.