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Cranberry Pistachio Trees

I was intrigued by this recipe from Canadian Living in the November 2013 issue. A shortbread cookie laden with cranberries and pistachios. I really like that it's not very sweet at all and just looks so beautiful, you have to take one and then one more. Although I've pretty well copied the simple ingredients, the method is slightly tweaked for the way it worked best for me.

  • 3 cups pistachios with shell on
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup dried cranberries, chopped
  • 1 egg white, for egg wash dip


Most of the work has to do with preparing the nuts. I love how pistachios are so easy to crack, even if it takes a bit of time.
  • shell enough nuts to fill 1 - 1 1/2 cups
  • place in a pot of boiling water and allow to boil for 1 minute. Drain and rinse with cold water
  • use a tea towel to loosen the brown skins and slip them off by hand. It's the beautiful bright green nuts that you want for these cookies and it's okay that they are slightly moist, because it protects them from toasting and turning brown while baking.
  • Coarsely chop, using a food processor or nut grinder. Set aside.
  1. In a mixing bowl, using wooden spoon, beat together butter, icing sugar, vanilla and almond extract until light and fluffy.
  2. Stir in chopped cranberries
  3. Stir in flour until well combined. 
  4. Divide into three parts and roll each into a 4 - 5 inch log. Wrap tightly with saran wrap and place in fridge for 15 minutes.
  5. Remove from fridge and, with wrap still on, shape into a triangle by pounding the sides on the counter. Shape as needed. Unwrap.
  6. Roll first in whisked egg white, then in nuts, pressing nuts on to cover all three sides.
  7. Re-wrap and place in fridge for 15 minutes or longer to set. Preheat oven to 325 F.
  8. Cut into 1/4 inch thin slices and place on parchment lined cookie sheets. Bake 18 - 20 minutes, until edges just lightly begin to look golden.  Let cool on cookie sheets before removing. Yields 3 1/2 - 4 dozen.  These freeze well.


  1. Just wondering....are these the "salted" variety of pistachios you are using

    1. I checked the packaged ones and they are roasted and salted, but I'm not sure about the ones you get in bulk, which I have also used. All I know is that by the time you boil them and peel off the skin, most of the salt is most likely gone.

  2. Michelle from VancouverDecember 2, 2014 at 7:18 AM

    I make these each Christmas for my cookie plates....I change up the nuts from year to year and add the zest of one orange.
    The longer they sit, the better the flavour.

  3. I've not seen anything like this before. A unique cookie for a Christmas buffet. It will be the only one like it on the table!

  4. Oh Anneliese - those look amazing! How do you make everything always look so easy and delicious?! I know we would LOVE these!

  5. I just made these and they are in the oven!! Wow, a lot of work with the nuts, but they turned out just like the pictures!! Great instructions Anneliese!! thanks for a new cookie for my Christmas repertoire.


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