Posted by fourclankitchen on October 15, 2011
I got Gina de Palma’s Dolce Italiana for Christmas two years ago. These days I find recipes by surfing, so this book has been languishing on my bookshelf since it was given to me. I now realize that relegating this book to the “maybe some day” category was a mistake. Gina de Palma is (was?) a pastry chef at Babbo, Mario Batali’s restaurant. I love the simplicity and homey-ness of Italian desserts and this book has them all. And although not all of the recipes in this book are simple, these pistachio bars certainly are. These bars are a cross between a biscotti and blondie and are nutty and fragrant with lemon zest. They are lovely dunked in coffee.
- 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup shelled, whole, unsalted pistachios, Sicilian if available
- 1 cup (2 sticks/8 ounces) unsalted butler, softened
- 1 1/4 cups plus 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon pure almond extract
- zest of 1 lemon
1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease a 13-by-18-inch jelly-roll pan with butter (The original recipe calls for lining the pan with parchment and then greasing the parchment (I found this to be tedious when spreading the dough since the parchment kept misbehaving. Next time I will leave it out).
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt and set aside. Place 1/2 cup pistachios in the bowl of a food processor and process for 20 to 30 seconds, until the nuts are finely ground. Stir the ground pistachios into the flour mixture.
3. Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter with the 1 1/4 cups sugar until very light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla extract, almond extract, and lemon zest, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.
4. On low speed, mix in the dry ingredients to make a soft dough. Use an offset spatula to spread the dough evenly in the pan, smoothing the surface as much as possible. Since there is no baking soda or powder, the bars are not going to rise much, so you must spread the dough pretty evenly to ensure even cooking (this is why the partchment is a pain).
5. Coarsely chop the remaining 1/2 cup pistachios in the food processor and sprinkle them evenly over the surface of the dough. Sprinkle the remaining 2 teaspoons sugar evenly over the nuts.
5. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the dough is firm and just turning golden brown at the edges, rotating the pan 180 degrees halfway through the baking time to ensure even browning. Allow the pan to cool on a wire rack for before cutting the cookies into rectangular bars. The next time I make them, I will bake them for around 30-35 min to leave the bars a little more cakey and a little less biscotti-like, but this is a personal preference.
6. Enjoy with coffee, a glass of milk or some almond ice cream.