Pistachio Drop Cookies: The Story and the Recipe

So I know I haven’t been here in a while. It’s been crazy with finals coming up and lots of other things going on. Today was my last final exam this semester (calculus). Soooo glad that’s over. Anyway, one of my last assignments before classes ended was to write a process paper. Part of the assignment was to pick apart at a recipe or how-to and also tell a story along with it. Since I wrote about a certain type of Christmas cookie, I decided to post my essay here too. Enjoy. 🙂

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It is that time of year again. Christmas carols are heard on the radio, shops and homes are decorated with garlands, bows and lights and people are rapidly planning for various Christmas festivities. Long standing family traditions commence once again. Christmastime is a wonderful time of year. One common holiday tradition is cookie baking. People bake cookies all year round of course but December is a time when many of the fancier, unique, and festive cookies are made. We devour chocolate chip, peanut butter, and sugar cookies all year round but at Christmas time, we devour these kinds of cookies and more. Of course, amongst a hectic schedule, finding time and energy to make cookies from scratch can be nearly impossible. Many cookie recipes can take several hours from start to finish. Many people thus decide to buy cookies at the grocery store or to buy frozen cookie dough. While these cookies can be delicious, there is nothing like warm, freshly homemade cookies that you make yourself.

When I was in kindergarten, my class spent a day making various types of Christmas cookies with our teacher and some parent supervisors. All the recipes were relatively simple but they all produced scrumptious holiday treats. My favorite type that we made that day was the pistachio drop cookies. Since kindergarten, I have made these cookies almost every Christmas. When I was younger, I made them with my mom’s help. A young child baking cookies with a parent or grandparent is an excellent bonding experience, especially on a cold and snowy day. Perhaps you remember baking cookies with mom on a snow day or baking cookies with a beloved grandparent before Christmas. As I grew older, I started baking these cookies on my own. Given the simplicity and ease of the recipe, I am still able to bake these cookies amidst a crazy schedule. I have often found myself making several batches of these cookies throughout the holiday season because they are consumed quite quickly in my house.

In order to make pistachio drop cookies, one first needs to acquire all the necessary ingredients. To make a batch of about 35 cookies, you will need two packages of pistachio instant pudding mix, two eggs, ½ cup cooking oil, two cups of Bisquick, 18 red maraschino cherries and sugar. The pistachio pudding mix gives the cookies their rich pistachio flavor and their festive green color. The cherries are placed at the center of the green cookies and make the cookies look like little red and green Christmas decorations. Over the years, I have discovered that using the “healthy” version of Bisquick works just as well as the original version. Using the “healthy” version can make these little holiday morsels a little less of a guilty pleasure. The pudding mix and the Bisquick are made of multiple ingredients, which makes the ingredients list relatively short and simple. Most of these ingredients are readily available at the store. Sometimes finding pistachio pudding mix can be a challenge but generally the grocery store will carry this flavor. I tend to keep an extra couple of boxes in the cupboard throughout the season so that I do not have to run out to the store the next time I impulsively want to make pistachio drop cookies.

The actual baking procedure is short and simple. The first step is technically not part of the actual recipe but can help make the baking process less of a chore. First put on some upbeat Christmas tunes in the kitchen. If you want, you can sing along and/or dance to the music while you work. Upbeat music in the background can make almost any chore seem more fun. To actually make the cookies, you need to mix the pudding mix, eggs, oil, and Bisquick together.  Unlike many other recipes, there is no particular order in which to mix these ingredients. Cracking eggs can be a challenge for children or inexperienced bakers. To avoid the problem of eggshells in the dough, I suggest cracking the eggs over a separate bowl before putting them in the mix. By doing this, you can pick out any pieces of shell that might have broken off. After the dough is mixed, roll the dough into little balls with diameters of about 1.5 inches. After forming each ball of dough, roll the ball in sugar. The easiest way to do this is to pour sugar onto a large plate and roll each individual ball in the sugar. You can start out with a half of a cup of sugar on the plate. You may need to add a little more sugar on the plate later in the process. Place each sugar covered ball of dough on a ungreased nonstick cookie sheet. Each cookie should be 1.5 inches apart. You will likely need two cookie sheets. Then cut the maraschino cherries in half. Since these cherries tend to be juicy, I recommend placing the halves on a paper towel for a few moments in order for some of the juice to drain. If you do this, you will prevent a lot of cherry juice from running over the cookie dough. The red juice can turn the tops of the cookie more tan than green. Take each cherry half and place in the center of each dough ball. Press down only slightly (again, to prevent too much juice from draining on the cookie). Once all the sugar covered dough balls have cherries on them and are on the cookie sheet, place the cookie sheet on the middle rack in an oven preheated to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Let the cookies bake for ten to twelve minutes. My suggestion is to check the cookies after ten minutes of baking time and put them back in the oven if need be. You know the cookies are done if the edges and undersides of the cookies are slightly tan in color. Be careful not to burn yourself when checking cookies and removing them from the oven. Always use oven mitts when removing the cookie sheet. When checking the cookies, pull the cookie sheet out, place it on the stove top, and check the cookies undersides using a spatula to lift the cookie up off the sheet slightly. Once the cookies are baked, leave them on the sheet for about five minutes. After that, use the spatula to lift each cookie off the sheet and onto a cookie cooling rack. The final step is to sit down and sample these freshly made morsels of pistachio goodness.

These cookies are prefect for Christmas parties, holiday bake sales, cookie swaps, or just for general consumption at home. Whether you have been baking for years or are relatively new to the world of baking, these cookies are sure to be a success. During my freshman year of high school, I introduced this recipe to my confirmation mentor from church. She bakes all kinds of sweet treats but had never made cookies like these. We made several batches for the Christmas fair and she had to admit that these easy to make cookies were delicious. These cookies may be easy to make but sometimes the best things in life are also the simplest. Perhaps you can add this recipe to your repertoire of holiday baking recipes and traditions. Christmas cookie baking is not just about making cookies but rather about making unique, fun and creative cookies. It is a time to honor past tradition and to develop new traditions. Most importantly, Christmas cookie baking can be a wonderful family or friend bonding activity. Whether you make pistachio drop cookies with someone or by your lonesome, I hope that you find enjoyment and satisfaction with this recipe as I have ever since that baking day in kindergarten.

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