Pistachio-Cranberry Fridge Cookies (Vegan)

Vegan cookies are a hit or miss kind of deal. They’re just finicky. So I was extremely pleased when the texture, taste and appearance of these came out just right.

This recipe is my reinterpretation of a couple of family classics at the cookie parties – sans butter, or eggs, or granulated sugar; or any of the ingredients I don’t want to be feeding myself or the ones I love. But I promise, and our household little person can confirm, they taste like proper cookies – not ‘health food’. They’re the perfect compromise when you want decadence without (or with less) guilt. And besides, they’re greenish and reddish: holiday-themed! As if they didn’t already have enough going for them.

Yield: 60 cookies

What you need:

  • 2 cups shelled pistachios
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • scant 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • scant 1/3 cup brown rice syrup
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon ume plum vinegar (or salt if you don’t have ume plum vinegar)
  • 1-1/2 cups + 1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 cup tapioca starch
  • 1 cup finely chopped dried cranberries (apple-juice sweetened preferred)

What you do:

  1. Boil a kettle full of water. Place the shelled pistachios in a quart-sized glass measuring cup. Cover the pistachios with boiling water and let them sit for a minute or two. Drain and spread them out on a tea towel. When cooled a bit, rub off as many of the dark skins as possible. Not all of them will come off, that’s okay, just get as many of them as you can.
  2. Transfer the pistachios to the work bowl of a food processor (with the regular blade attachement). Run the food processor to reduce the pistachios to a paste. This will take several minutes. If necessary, give your machine a break every couple of minutes and scrape down the sides of the work bowl. When the nuts are getting crumbly, with the machine running, add the sunflower oil – this will help them go to paste more easily.
  3. When the pistachios are paste, add the two syrups, vanilla extract and ume plum vinegar (or salt). Run the machine a few more minutes, until the mixture is uniform.
  4. Add the tapioca starch and process to integrate.
  5. Add the flour, a third (or so) at a time (no need to be too precise); until the full amount has been added. At the last addition, run until a ball forms. A bit of flour left is fine, you’ll be able to work it in by hand.
  6. Transfer the dough ball to a bowl. Add the chopped dried cranberries and, using your hands, work/kned them into the dough until evenly distributed throughout.
  7. Divide the dough in two. Shape/roll each half into a long log, roughly 2” in diameter. Wrap the log in parchment or waxed paper and wrap the ends, tootsie-roll style. Refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight. (Or keep the dough in the fridge up to 3 days before baking. Or wrap tightly in plastic and freeze for up to a month – defrost in the fridge before cooking.)
  8. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 300F. Line two baking pans with parchment or silicone liners. Unwrap one of the two logs, leaving the other in the fridge until ready to bake it. Cut the log into 1/3” thick slices and set the slices onto the cookie sheets, leaving an inch or two between cookies.
  9. Bake 7 minutes. Rotate the trays. Bake another 9 minutes. The bottoms should be golden but the cookies shouldn’t brown on the sides or top.
  10. Let set on the pan a minute or two and then transfer to wire racks to finish cooling.

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