Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Pistachio Arctic Cookies: Polar Bears and Penguins

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Arctic Cookies: Polar Bears and Penguins
Polar Bears and Penguins
I found a pistachio sugar cookie recipe on Pinterest, and last weekend I bought pistachios to try it out. I could not let winter leave without making arctic cookies of polar bears and penguins. I baked and decorated the cookies Saturday and it was pretty much my day. I used salted pistachios, so I did not add additional salt to the recipe. The pistachios need to be finely ground, and I use a coffee grinder just for nuts and spices and think it works better than a standard food processor. The pistachio sugar cookies are so yummy, not too sweet and have just the right amount of salt. You can taste the lemon zest and the pistachios give the cookie a great texture and flavor. If you use unsalted pistachios, add 1/2 teaspoon of coarse salt. See recipe below.

Polar Bears
Yield: 5 1/2 Dozen Cookies (depending on cutter size)

5 cups King Arthur All Purpose Flour, sifted

1 1/2 cups Salted Pistachio Nuts, finely ground

1 1/2 cups Granulated Sugar

Zest of 2 Lemons

2 cups (4 sticks) Unsalted Butter, softened and cut into cubes

2 Eggs, cold

3 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract


Pulse pistachios in coffee grinder or food processor until finely ground.

In a large bowl combine grounded pistachios, sugar, and lemon zest; set aside.

Cream butter in a hand held mixer or stand mixer with paddle attachment on medium speed; 1-2 minutes. Do not overmix.

Scrape sides of bowl with spatula and mix for a 10 seconds.

Add pistachio mixture, eggs, and vanilla extract and mix until incorporated. Do not overmix.

Scrape sides of bowl and mix for 5 seconds.

Fat Penguins
Oval Penguins

With mixer on low speed, slowly add flour mixture and incorporate. The dough is ready when it begins to clump around paddle attachment.

Cut in half and roll dough into 2 balls, cover with plastic wrap and chill in fridge for 1-2 hours or overnight or for 30-45 minutes in the freezer if pressed for time.

Take half of the dough leaving unused dough covered with plastic wrap in fridge until ready to use.

Heat oven to 350°F.

Polar Bear and Penguin
Polar Bear wearing a scarf and Penguin
Use two sheets of parchment paper with dough in between and roll with rolling pin until desired thickness is reached.

Dip cutters in flour, shake off excess, and make shapes with cutters.

Place onto cookies sheets lined with parchment paper.

Place cookie sheets in freezer for 10-15 minutes. The cookies hold their shape when you do this.

Bake 8-12 minutes or until the edges have slightly browned. My cookies baked in 12 minutes.

Wait 5 minutes before transferring cookies on cooling racks to complete cooling.

Decorate once cookies have cooled completely.

Polar Bear and Penguin
Penguin and  Polar Bear

Large Batch Royal Icing
8 Egg Whites

8 teaspoons Lemon Juice, freshly squeezed

12 cups Powdered/Confectioners' Sugar, sifted

1 tablespoon Clear Vanilla Extract


In a large bowl, sift powdered sugar, set aside.

In a bowl, add egg whites.

In a bowl, whisk together the egg whites and lemon juice.

Transfer to stand or hand held mixer with paddle attachment and mix on high for 1-2 minutes.

Add vanilla extract and mix for 5-10 seconds.

With mixer speed on low, slowly add sifted sugar and beat on low until smooth.

If needed, you may add 1 teaspoon of water at a time until you reach the right consistency. Watch the Joy of Baking (link at the end) video for both Flooding Consistency and Piping Consistency Royal Icing. If you prefer a recipe using Meringue Powder, it is also available at this link.

Royal Icing and Wilton Food Writer
I separated the icing in plastic containers with lids according to the different colors needed for tinting.

I used AmeriColor Soft Gel Paste Food Color in Orange, Turquoise, and Super Black. Use 1-2 drops at a time until you reach the color desired.

Keep the containers covered until you are ready to color.

I transferred the icing immediately into squeeze bottles using a small funnel to prevent spilling.

I do an outline on each cookie first
If the royal icing hardens due to exposure to air, use a spray bottle and spray a little bit of water and shake bottle well holding the tip with your finger. Test the icing consistency on a paper towel before decorating the cookie.

I outlined the cookies first, waited 1/2 hour and then filled them.

Use a paintbrush or cookie stick to reach edges, and use tip of cookie stick or a toothpick to pop any air bubbles.

If you are using sprinkles, confetti, sugar pearls, dragees, etc... add them over wet icing.

Congrats cookie for coworker who just completed his Ph.D.
If you want to write over the royal icing, let it dry first and then apply over the icing. I did this using a black Wilton Food Writer for the Congrats cookie I made for my coworker Ray who just earned his Ph.D. I added stars in different colors over wet royal icing. I used a little white luster dust with a small brush to make the cookie shimmer.

Let cookies dry overnight. This is essential so the icing does not stick together when you stack them or place in cookie tins for gifts.

If you are baking and it is humid, allow more time for the cookies to dry.

For the Pistachio Cookie Recipe, visit Ann Clark Cookie Cutters:

For the Royal Icing Recipe and Video Tutorial, visit:


-Sophia/Two Frys

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