I can’t beat ’em

Lavender blossoms

I sort of hoped an early Thanksgiving would mean a bit of a break between holidays – you know, just a day or two to let the country collectively relax before being handed another Hallmarked to-do list. But it won’t happen. Not in Seattle, anyway. Yesterday I got pounded with Christmas music. I let it snow at Trader Joe’s, got my halls decked at Whole Foods – couldn’t even avoid it on NPR. And you know that old saying. . .

So I’m joining. You’ll find lots of holiday sweets here this week – maybe not every day, but most days. Early, I know, but this way, two weeks from now, when your cookie crisis hits, you’ll have a bit of a collection to turn to. Not that there wasn’t one already around here. . .heck, between the Rustic Salty Cashew Shortbread, the Everything Oatmeal Cookies, and the Cornmeal Sparklers, you already have a few good (and freezable) options for your swap.

Lavender-Pistachio Tea Cakes

Lavender-Pistachio Tea Cakes (PDF)
Recipe 329 of 365

Based on a recipe for Russian Tea Cakes handed around in my husband’s family (and inspired by the Lavender-Honey ice cream at Bi-Rite in San Francisco), these little guys carry just the right hint of floral flavor.

If you’d like to make these ahead, form the balls and freeze unbaked, first on a cookie sheet until they harden, then in a big zip-top bag. Bake directly from frozen for a few minutes longer.

TIME: 25 minutes active time
MAKES: about 3 dozen cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried lavender buds, crushed or finely chopped
1 cup pistachios (shelled), coarsely chopped
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Note: You can bake the cookies directly after mixing, skipping the chilling part, but they’ll be denser and a little less delicate. I prefer them to be fragile and shatter when I bite into them.

In the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light, about 2 minutes. Scrape the butter from the sides and bottom of the bowl, add the flour, vanilla, salt, and lavender, and mix on low until the flour is incorporated.

Chopped pistachios

Stir in the pistachios, and chill the dough at least 30 minutes. (It will be crumbly.)

Lavender-Pistachio Tea Cakes dough

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Press the dough into walnut-sized balls and arrange 1” apart on two parchment-covered baking sheets. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through, or until cookies are firm and just beginning to brown. Let cool 2 minutes on baking sheets, then roll in confectioners’ sugar, once when hot, then again about 15 minutes later, when the cookies have cooled a bit. Let cool to room temperature on racks before storing.

Lavender-Pistachio Tea Cakes 2

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