Monday, December 29, 2008

VGP #29 Fennel Pistachio Cookies

These cookies stopped me in my tracks while flipping through my trusty Better Homes and Gardens Christmas Cookies magazine. First, I love pistachios. Second, I have fennel in my spice cupboard but have only used it once, and never for cookies. I found the combination highly intriguing. And third, the recipe was not part of the magazine but in an advertisement...for butter. So I figured if, out of all the cookie recipes out there, butter was using this one to advertise itself, it was worth my time. And I was right.

Fennel (warm and licoricey), pistachio (nutty), lemon (bright and tart), and almond extract (sweet) are the main flavors in here; they are a great ensemble cast. I was afraid the called-for 2 Tablespoons of almond extract was a typo - I've never seen a recipe call for that much. Just in case, I used only 1 Tablespoon, but in the end the other flavors are strong enough to counter the almond so 2 would be ok. These are soft but not too soft, sweet, nutty, and wonderfully flavorful!
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 egg
2 T almond extract
1 T lemon zest
1 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup pistachio nuts, chopped, plus extra for garnish, optional

1. Preheat oven to 350. In bowl of electric mixter beat butter until creamy. Gradually add sugar; mix well. Add egg; beat well. Add almond, lemon zest and fennel seeds; mix to combine.

2. In separate medium bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt; gradually add butter mixture; beat well. Stir in pistachio nuts; dough will be stiff.

3. Shape dough into 1-inch balls; place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. If desired, flatten balls slightly and sprinkle with additional chopped pistachios. Bake for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool slightly on sheets; remove to wire racks to cool. Makes 3 dozen.

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