Is it weird that I’m super into pistachios?
Pistachios are not trendy. They are not “having a moment.” They are not on anyone’s pop culture radar. Bacon? Bacon is still the foodie’s darling. Salted caramel is still going strong. Macarons are the new cupcake, and cupcakes are the old cupcake, which is to say: still popular. But pistachios? Nobody is showing the pistachio any love except me.
Fortunately, I have pistachio love to spare.
Random food trend tidbit: Let it be known that I predicted the rise of the retro dessert craze way back in 2009.You’re probably thinking I’m some kind of genius, and you’re not wrong. But I also predicted that the black and white cookie would explode, which it really hasn’t done…so I guess I’m only genius-adjacent. Or else 2013 will be the year of the black and white cookie. YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST.
But enough about me, let’s get back to the humble pistachio. I think this neglected nut is the perfect companion to these brownie-like chocolate cookies. They’re rich and fudgy, with pockets of melted dark chocolate chunks. They need to be paired with something that’s strong enough to balance our all that gooey chocolate, but won’t overpower it or fight with the flavor. Cue the pistachio’s entrance.
Pistachios actually appear in two ways in this cookie: as chunks in the cookies themselves, and as flavoring for the fluffy buttercream. That buttercream, by the way, is my dirty little secret. I was originally going to use pistachio paste to color and flavor it, but I was concerned about using a specialty ingredient that’s a bit uncommon and difficult to track down.
So instead, I used pistachio pudding mix to make the buttercream. Forgive me, food snobs, for I have sinned…but the pudding mix actually works really well! The buttercream is light and smooth, with a lovely pale green color and a vibrant pistachio taste. Scoff all you want, but it’s exactly what these cookies needed.
Finish them off with a coating of chopped salted pistachios around the edges, and you have a dessert that can compete against a bacon-salted caramel-macaron-topped cupcake anytime.
Black and white cookie, I’m coming for you next.
Chocolate-Pistachio Sandwich Cookies
For the Cookies:
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 14 oz dark chocolate chopped, divided use
- 1 1/2 oz butter 3 tbsp
- 2 eggs room temperature
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup pistachios roasted, salted, coarsely chopped
For the Pistachio Frosting:
- 1 box dry pistachio instant pudding 3.4 oz (not sugar-free!)
- 6 tbsp milk
- 2 1/2 oz butter
- 2 cups powdered sugar 8 oz
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp almond extract
- 1/2 cup roasted salted pistachios, coarsely chopped (for decoration)
To Make the Cookies:
In a small bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder and set aside for a moment. Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Combine 10 oz of the chopped chocolate and the butter in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 30-second increments until melted, stirring after every 30 seconds to prevent overheating. Stop heating when there are still a few bits of unmelted chocolate remaining, and continue to stir the chocolate until the residual heat melts the chocolate pieces. Set aside to cool for a few moments.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Beat with a whisk attachment on medium-high speed for 8-10 minutes until the mixture is pale yellow, fluffy, and voluminous. Add the melted chocolate and flour mixtures, and mix on low until almost combined. Stop when just a few streaks of flour remain, and add the remaining chopped chocolate and the pistachios. Stir until everything’s well-combined.
Set aside the dough at room temperature for at least 10-15 minutes, to give it a chance to firm up a little. If you refrigerate the dough at this point, it will become very hard, and will need to sit at room temperature to soften before using it. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Scoop the dough by tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheets. You should get about 24-28 cookies. Bake the cookies for 10 minutes, until they’re puffed and crackly on top, but still soft in the middle. Let them cool completely on the trays before removing them.
To Make the Frosting:
Sift the dry pudding mix into a large mixing bowl—some brands (like Jell-O) include little bits of nuts, so they need to be sifted out unless you want nuts in your frosting. Add the milk to the pudding mix and whisk briefly, then let it sit for 5 minutes to absorb the milk and reduce the graininess of the sugar in the mix.
After 5 minutes, add the butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, salt, and almond extract to the mixing bowl. Mix everything together with a paddle attachment on low speed, until the powdered sugar is absorbed. Raise the speed the medium-high and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy. Adjust the texture by adding more powdered sugar if it is too runny, or more milk if it is too stiff.
To assemble the cookies, spread a generous layer of frosting on the bottom of one cookie, and press the bottom of another cookie on top. Press down until the frosting comes all the way out to the edges. Immediately roll the edges in some chopped pistachios, and repeat until all sandwich cookies are assembled.
Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. (They will last longer, but the cookies will start to get hard and stale.)