I never really thought of myself as a person who held on to too much tradition. Maybe its my age, maybe I’m just ‘too young’ to hold on to things that are supposed to occur year after year. I have many people in my life that need to follow tradition- it would make them very anxious otherwise- but with my life seemingly constantly in limbo these past few years, I’ve not attached myself to much ‘sameness’. I don’t need a tree, I don’t think I’ve opened a gift on actual Christmas Day in awhile, and although I crave a white Christmas, I can’t remember the last time I got one. As I go into my first Christmas as an ‘adult’, I’ve started thinking about how different this event has been even in the past three years. Last year we rented a cabin in Big Bear, CA, the year before was an exploration of Los Angeles and this year we are headed to the West coast, but ending up in Las Vegas. Not too shabby.
For me, the one constant ‘tradition’ involved in the holidays is the emphasis on food. When we packed up the car for Big Bear, my Christmas cheer came from the assortment of tamales and oversized appetizer tubs from Costco. Bring on the Golden Margarita, it’s time to decorate the tree and get drunk with my family. In this ‘tradition’ and love for food, Christmas cookies have become my way of telling people I care about them. A pretty package of warm, home baked cookies gets people every time. It’s my way of telling them I love them enough to soften butter and slave away making balls of dough.
I’ve won many a friend with cookies, and kept them with these bad boys right here: Chocolate Pistachio Sables. A french shortbread cookie, but updated with chocolate and studded with bright green pistachios. Essentially a classy slice-n-bake, this cookie is rolled into a tube and then cut into slices, baked and sprinkled with flaky sea salt. Yes, please. I made these for David’s mother and I’ve been on the nice list ever since! Nothing can build bridges like some flaky sea salt. (PS- Full credit to Bon Appetit Magazine, I could never take full responsibility for this incredible recipe!)
So with that obnoxious tirade about traditions and nonsense, my point is that I’ve come to realize the validity in valuing relationships around the holidays. These relationships with the people around me and the relationship with food I’ve built my life upon are the traditions I’m choosing to claim ownership of. I don’t know where I will be next year, but I do know it will involve cookies. It will always lead back to cookies.
Parchment vs Wax Paper: I hardly ever buy waxed paper anymore, parchment just does all of the jobs waxed does but better. Rolling these logs of dough in parchment protects them from freezer burn for when you make these ahead and stick the extra rolls into the freezer. Whenever you have guests or a need for a gift, take a roll out, peel off the paper, and simply slice- just like Pillsbury taught you.
Recipe from Bon Appetit Magazine
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 1¼ cups (2½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1¼ cups (lightly packed) light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 large egg white
- 5 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 1 cup unsalted, shelled raw pistachios, coarsely chopped
- Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)
- Whisk flour, cocoa powder, kosher salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat butter, brown sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Reduce speed to low and gradually add dry ingredients; mix just to combine, then mix in egg white. Fold in chocolate and pistachios.
- Divide dough into 4 pieces. Roll each piece into an 8”-long log about 1½” in diameter, pushing dough together if it feels crumbly. Wrap tightly in parchment paper and chill until firm, at least 4 hours. (The colder your dough, the easier it will be to slice.)
- Place racks in lower and upper thirds of oven; preheat to 350°. Working with 1 log of dough at a time and using a serrated knife, cut logs into ¼”-thick rounds and transfer to 2 parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing ½” apart.
- Sprinkle cookies with sea salt and bake, rotating baking sheets halfway through, until set around edges and centers look dry, 10–12 minutes. Transfer to wire racks and let cool.