No one can argue with the fact that American cookies are the best. When I lived in Paris and came to the US, I kept bringing a ton of American cookies home to my friends and relatives. Cookies are always a nice treat no matter the age of the cookie monster or the occasion being celebrated. We thought Santa would appreciate and taste some of our homemade cookies with an exotic twist (pandan extract) for a change.
Today is Christmas Eve and the girls decided we would leave some milk and cookies for Santa tonight. My little munchkin thinks she'll get more presents this way.
Servings: 36 cookies
16 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 sticks), soft at room temperature
1 cup brown sugar, tightly packed
¼ cup superfine sugar (or granulated sugar)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2-½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
½ teaspoon sea salt (or regular salt)
2 tablespoons pandan paste
8 ounces vanilla chips
4 ounces shelled whole pistachios, roasted and coarsely chopped
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs with the superfine sugar for about 5-6 minutes. You'll get a pale, yellow foam and the texture of the eggs will be thicker. Add vanilla extract.
In a bowl, combine the flours, salt, baking powder and cream of tartar. Sift all the dry ingredients.
Cream the butter with brown sugar (whisk using a stand-mixer to get as much air as possible in the butter). Add the egg mixture and the dry ingredients. Mix well. Add the pandan paste. It will bring a distinct bright green color to the dough. Mix well using a silicone spatula. Add the coarsely chopped pistachios and vanilla chips. Divide the dough and roll into 2 (2-¼" diameter) logs. Chill them in the freezer until firm (this step is optional but it helps make evenly-shaped cookies). It will take at least 30 minutes to harden (see storing tips).
Slice the logs into ¼" to ½" thick disks. Place the cookies on a baking sheet previously lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Make sure they are spaced apart so they don't touch each other when they expand while baking.
Bake for about 5 minutes at 375°F, then lower the heat to 350°F for another 6-8 minutes, depending on how soft you prefer them. Don't over-bake them; you want them to be moist and chewy. Remove from the oven. Transfer the cookies to cooling racks. Allow to cool completely.
Enjoy with a tall glass of sharbat (pink-colored Indian milk drink).
My 4 little sisters-in-law have all been good girls this year. Let's tuck them in bed and wait for you, Santa. Please leave all sorts of goodies at the bottom of the tree. Send our love to the elves and reindeer and Mrs. Claus.
Sifting dry ingredients helps get rid of lumps of flour and aerates the mixture when liquid is added. It's very important for all your baking so you get a moist result.
FYI: 1 cup of butter = 16 tablespoons = 2 sticks of butter.
I prefer using superfine sugar. It's a fine-grained sugar and it dissolves much more quickly than regular granulated sugar.
A pinch of salt brings out the flavor of the dessert and enhances its sweetness.
I buy Koepoe-Koepoe brand pastes. There are rose, mocha and pandan flavors. If you're adventurous, you can also try durian paste . You can find them in Asian stores or at VeryAsia.com. I use the same pastes for making Vietnamese jello cakes.
I prefer Guittard vanilla chips but if you can't find any, you can replace it with white chocolate chips.
You can create your own twist to these cookies by using different nuts such as macadamia nuts, pecans or walnuts, chocolate chips (milk, dark, white, butterscotch, peanut butter, lemon apeels, mint apeels) or flavorings (rose, pandan, peppermint, mocha, cherry or dried fruits). Let your imagination run wild!
You can also store the cookie logs up to 4 weeks in your freezer for last-minute surprise guests.
You can store the baked cookies in an airtight metallic tin for up to a week to keep them moist. If you like them firmer, just let them cool longer or store them in a regular cookie jar or simply eat them all, like we did!
These alien-looking cookies are perfect for Halloween and St. Patrick's Day as well.