Substituting Avocado for Crisco? Yes! Try Pistachio Doodle Cookies
I have a great Snickerdoodle recipe. The problem is, the recipe calls for a lot of Crisco--solid vegetable shortening--as well as butter. I'm not keen on what manufactured fat does to my arteries, much less to my heart and butt. So what to do? I checked out all sorts of substitutes, but none seemed to offer any hope of making my cookies turn out well. Inspiration finally struck one day as I contemplated my fruit and vegetable collection, looking to see what I needed to use before it spoiled. There sat an avocado, well ripened with no plans for guacamole in it's future. I wondered if the fat in the avocado would work for the vegetable shortening in my Snickerdoodle recipe. Maybe. I might end up with green Snickerdoodles, though. No problem, why not make a cookie that should be green? A pistachio cookie? That might be even better than a Snickerdoodle. So, I tweaked my Snickerdoodle recipe a bit (okay, more than a bit) and ended up with cookies that are soft, subtly spiced with cardamom, and buttery sweet with pistachio bits. The cookies also are a very faint green color beneath their cardamom-sugar crusted tops. How do the Pistachio Doodles compare to the Snickerdoodles? I think the Pistachio Doodles are better. They have a much more complex, rich taste as well as the health benefits of avocados (which contain lots of fiber and are rich in vitamins and minerals, such as B-vitamins, vitamin K, potassium, copper, vitamin E and vitamin C) and pistachio nuts (which can increase the levels of antioxidants in the blood of adults with high cholesterol, according to an international team of nutritional scientists). The Pistachio Doodles also keep well. I think the flavor of the pistachio cookies actually improves a day or two after baking. So ditch the Crisco and go green.
Pistachio Doodle Cookies -- Makes 24+
2 cups of flour
1 cup of shelled, roasted pistachio nuts
2 teaspoons of cream of tartar
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of cardamom, plus 1/2 teaspoon
8 tablespoons of butter (1 stick), softened
1 large avocado, seeded and mashed
1 1/2 cups of sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1/2 teaspoon of almond extract
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or spray them with non-stick cooking spray. Grind the pistachio nuts in a food processor or blender until only a few large bits remain. Whisk the flour, ground nuts, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt, and 1 teaspoon of cardamom together. In a large bowl, combine the softened butter, mashed avocado, and 1 1/2 cups of sugar and beat them well. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Beat in the vanilla and almond extracts. Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture and stir to combine everything. You need to stir just until the dry mixture is incorporated, but you don't need to beat everything hard. Drop the dough onto the prepared cookie sheets, using about 2 tablespoons of dough for each cookie and spacing the cookies 2 inches apart. Moisten your hands with a little water and shape the cookies into discs about 1/2 inch thick (that way you don't need to roll the cookies into little balls). Combine the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of cardamom and sprinkle a little of the cardamom sugar over the tops of the cookies. Bake the cookies for 10-15 minutes until puffed and barely firm. The crevices may look a little under baked. Remove the cookie sheets from the oven, letting the cookies remain on the sheets for 5 minutes before you remove the cookies to a rack to cool completely (or at least cool enough for you to eat them without burning your mouth). Watch for kitchen elves who, attracted to the scent of baking cookies will come and try to steal the warm cookies when you're not looking.