Now that I’ve had a few days to recover from the jet lag, I’m ready to turn my attention to the impending Christmas festivities. Berlin, Prague and Vienna are still floating around in my mind, but I’m also beginning to anticipate the eating fest that will begin very shortly.

When I first posted about my trip, one of the concerns I had was how I would react to missing out on much of the preparations for Christmas, especially the baking. In my absence, the decorations went up and my mother, the little baking tank that she is, singlehandedly prepared almost all of the traditional sweets that we enjoy at this time of year.

To my surprise, I didn’t mind missing out on this experience at all. I’m not saying I would do it every year, but somehow not being around for much of the pre-Christmas stress has made me focus that much more on what the holiday really means. It doesn’t really matter if I don’t bake 30 different kinds of cookies. The point is that I’ll be with my family and we’ll be enjoying some good food and drink, and hopefully many laughs.

And that’s good enough for me.

With so little time left before Christmas, I decided that I would choose one cookie to bake. Only one. It didn’t take very long for me to choose which one either:  White Chocolate Pistachio Thumbprint Cookies with Lemon. Originally from Tish Boyle’s The Good Cookie, these little gems have entered into the family repertoire of Christmas cookies. They are easy and delicious and look divine on a cookie tray. Plus you get to squish your thumb into them before baking them, which brings me to my next point.

I have a serious thing for thumbprint cookies. I don’t know what it is, but something about pushing my thumb into dough and then filling the indentation just makes me tingle! One of my favourite Ina Garten recipes is for Jam Thumbprint Cookies and I can’t get enough of those either. These particular thumbprint cookies are filled with luscious white chocolate. I’ve adapted them to include lots of lemon zest and occasionally, even some coconut extract. How could you possibly resist?

So stick out those thumbs, massage them, exercise them, get them ready. For the mighty thumb is the key to one of the best Christmas cookies you’ll ever try!


White Chocolate Pistachio Thumbprint Cookies with Lemon

Adapted from The Good Cookie by Tish Boyle.

  • 1-1/2 cup unsalted pistachios, shelled
  • 2-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. coconut extract (optional)
  • 1 tbsp. lemon zest, finely grated or chopped
  • 8 or 9 ounces white chocolate, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Process the pistachios in a food processor until very finely ground, but not oily or pasty. This should take about 30 seconds or so.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute.
  4. Add 1/4 cup of the ground pistachios and mix on medium speed for another 2 minutes.
  5. Add the egg yolks, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl.
  6. Add the vanilla extract, coconut extract (if using) and the lemon zest. Beat for another minute until combined.
  7. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour and salt and mix until just incorporated.
  8. In a large, shallow bowl, beat the egg whites until frothy.
  9. Take a piece of dough, roughly 1 inch in size and roll into a ball. Dip the ball in the egg whites and then roll the ball of dough in the remaining ground pistachios. Place on a cookie sheet (about an inch apart) and with your thumb, make an indentation in the dough (being careful not to go all the way to the bottom of the dough).
  10. Repeat with the remaining dough. You should get anywhere from 60 to 70 cookies depending on the size of the balls of dough.
  11. Bake the cookies in the centre of the oven (one sheet at a time) for 11 to 13 minutes. They’re done when the cookies have spread a bit, the nuts are lightly golden and the bottoms are also golden. Let the cookies cool completely on a wire rack.
  12. Once the cookies are cool, melt the chocolate in a double boiler. As soon as the chocolate has melted, stir it and add the vegetable oil and stir again until smooth.
  13. With a teaspoon, fill each cookie with some chocolate. If you have any chocolate left, drizzle it over the cookies. Let the chocolate set for at least an hour.
  14. These cookies should be stored in an airtight container for up to a week.
  15. Enjoy!

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