One of the most wonderful things about a recipe is all the places it can go.
Take, for instance, a recipe for two-tiered Chocolate Chip Pistachio Cookies that appeared in a women's magazine in the early 1980s. How could the recipe developer have known what a role this recipe would end up playing in the Spy family's lives?
After all, it was this recipe that struck the fancy of my mother (you know her as SpyMom) and intrigued her enough to bake a batch. And the whole family loved them. They were buttery and lightly crumbly but so soft and just ever so slightly chewy in the center, and the walnuts and pistachio and chocolate just worked so perfectly together. We all loved them so much, in fact, that the next year, she made them again. And the year after that. A tradition was born.
But somewhere along the line--was it when her children went to college, moved away, began having their own lives?--the cookies stopped being made. Every year someone (usually me) would lament the fact that they were missing from the festivities, but year after year, they did not make an appearance.
But this year, we brought the recipe out from hiberation. SpyMom found the handwritten recipe and told me that this was during her "penmanship phase", when she would stay up at night practicing perfect penmanship, trying to will her handwriting into something more perfect than it was.
Since then, her handwriting has reverted back to its old, slighly messier, but in my opinion, more charming form.
But how wonderful to encounter this little slice of the past, complete with doodlings (mine? My little sister's?) and speckled with baking debris from years past.
I baked the cookies while my parents were out, and when they returned, my mother shrieked. "What?" I cried out, thinking that perhaps she'd seen a mouse. But no. "They're just like I used to make!" she said. And I may be getting a bit flowery here, but I think that she and my dad both had a little moment, thinking sweet memories. And that made me extremely happy, in turn.
How's that for season's sweetings?
Chocolate Chip Pistachio Cookies
Makes about 24
- 3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
- 1 package (3 3/4 ounces) instant pistachio pudding (NOT sugar-free)
- 6 ounces (half a bag) semisweet chocolate chips, plus 20-30 chips for garnish
- confectioners' sugar, for dusting
- Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, or lightly grease them.
- In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
- In a separate bowl, using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until smooth, 2-3 minutes on medium speed. Add the eggs, milk, and vanilla; blend until creamy. Add the flour mixture in 3-4 increments, mixing until a stiff dough forms. Remove 1/4 of the dough to a separate bowl; add the walnuts.
- To the remaining dough, add the pudding mix and stir until completely combined. Fold in the 6 ounces of chocolate chips.
- By rounded teaspoonfuls, form the green dough into balls, and place 1 1/2 inches apart on the prepared sheets. Using the back of a teaspoon or a floured drinking glass bottom, gently flatten the tops of these dough rounds.
- Grab the small bowl of walnutty dough. Form the dough into marble-sized pieces, and place a ball of this dough on the top of each pistachio dough mound. Sort of like a two-part snowman.
- Place a single chocolate chip on top of each of the cookies, pressing gently to make sure it will stay in place.
- Bake in your preheated oven for 8-10 minutes, or until set. It's going to be hard to see if they have become golden on the bottom, so mainly just look for a matte finish and an ever so slight golden color around the bottom edge. Remove from the oven and let cool on the rack for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. If desired, dust with confectioners' sugar.