Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010
The other day I met Ryan downtown for lunch. He walked out of his office holding a small handful of pistachios, his new favorite snack. “Try one,” he said.
So naturally, I did, and pistachios and I are now very tight. Or rather, I fear that soon my jeans will be getting a bit tight, because I can’t stop munching on them. I’m not sure why I didn’t discover these delicious little bundles of salty goodness sooner, but it’s safe to say we’re friends for life. We quickly decided that pistachio-laced cookies were needed, and landed here.
I proceeded to happily mix them up, popped them in the oven, and was instantly disappointed. The cookies spread like crazy, and emerged from the oven flat, hard, and almost paper-thin. They still tasted great, but were definitely not the intended result.
Why, you ask? Perhaps (or definitely) because we now live at approximately 4,600 feet. I’ve been sort of in denial about the whole high-altitude thing until now. Sure, my tried-and-true sandwich bread turned out dense and gummy, and we won’t even talk about the eclairs I attempted last weekend. Yet somehow I allowed myself to ignore these mishaps and continued to hope for the best. No more, my friends. So we looked up the approximate altitude of our street, and I parked myself in a bookstore for several hours yesterday studying a variety of cookbooks. And oh, the things I learned.
And after yesterday’s study session, here’s the verdict: I have so much to learn! Thankfully I’ve picked up a few tricks and tweaks, but it’s become abundantly clear that pretty much everything I bake from now on is probably going to require a couple of rounds of testing before achieving a result reminiscent of baking at sea level. Oh sea level, how I miss you already.
All of this is just a long-winded way of saying that you’ll now find my notes on high-altitude adaptation at the end of each recipe. I hope this is useful for some of you, as I’m certainly having a hard time finding similar notes in the blog world. Again, please keep in mind that our tiny kitchen is located at approximately 4,600 feet above sea level, so if you’re baking above 5,000 feet or so, you’re in a whole other ballpark. And I don’t envy you a bit.
What follows is a halved version of the original recipe. The idea of six dozen of these in my kitchen is scary to me and especially my waistline, and besides, if you only make a half-batch, you’ll still have plenty of white chocolate chips left over for other goodies. Or for a second batch due to an altitude-ruined first batch. Just saying.
Makes 3 dozen cookies
1/2 cup of unsalted butter or margarine, room temperature
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of dark or light brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (regular salt will suffice)
1/2 cup rolled or quick oats
3/4 cup coarsely chopped pistachios, raw and unsalted*
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cream the butter and sugars together on high speed for three minutes.
Add the egg, milk, and vanilla and beat for 3 minutes, being sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure even mixing.
In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and oats. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture slowly, being sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl once or twice to ensure even mixing.
Fold in the pistachios and white chocolate chips. Drop heaping teaspoonfuls onto parchment lined cookie sheets, add an extra pistachio or two on top of each bit of dough for decoration if desired.
Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to set up on the cookie sheets before moving to a baking rack to cool completely.
*I actually used salted and roasted pistachios, because that’s what I could find for a decent price (and they’re tastier). If you go this route, use less salt.
High-Altitude Notes: After the first batch became a thin, flat catastrophe, I raised the oven temperature to 375°F and reduced each of the sugars to 1/3 cup. Perfect!