Alternative Baker // Pistachio Lime + Matcha Snowballs

It's been an insanely busy few months trying to balance a ton of work and travel, the Napa Valley harvest season, home life, and the arrival of my sweet little five-week-old nephew, Arthur. Amongst the craziness, I took a little break to celebrate my friend Alanna (aka The Bojon Gourmet) and her much-anticipated debut cookbook! From the distinct viewpoint of a classically trained pastry chef, Alternative Baker explores dessert making with gluten-free flours and lesser-known grains.

I had the pleasure of recipe testing in the development stage of this cookbook, and I also helped Alanna out with the copy on the back cover! One of the recipes I tested was the Pistachio Lime + Matcha Snowballs, and they're legitimately one of the best cookies I've ever consumed — flavor, texture, sweet to salty ratio...they're simply PERFECT. I'm a total cookie snob, so that statement holds some clout. I decided to bake these babies again for Alanna's cookbook release party last weekend — be sure to keep scrolling down past the recipe for a few of my favorite moments from her big day!

Together, Alanna and I have had many cooking collaboration wins (herehere, and here to name a few), survived a truly cursed road trip (she touches on it here), and experienced countless non-cursed and totally awesome adventures (like here). She's a good egg, I'm lucky to know her, and I couldn't be more proud of her for creating this insanely beautiful cookbook. And I'm not just saying all of this because she's my friend! Her otherworldly talent and work ethic are apparent from the moment you open Alternative Baker. Alanna has the ability to make gluten-free desserts sexy...in fact, I enjoy most of her spins on classics more than the originals.

Okay, okay, now let's talk about these crazy colorful cookies. There's a great deal of fresh grated lime, which has the most intoxicating scent. I swear I didn't want to wash my hands for like an hour after I zested! Combined with fresh chopped pistachios and matcha, the dough is citrusy, nutty, and sweet all at once. I am a weirdo and think this flavor combo creates an uncanny similarity to my favorite childhood cereal: Fruit Loops. 

Before the cookie balls go into oven, they're rolled in their first round of powdered sugar.

Once they come out of the oven and cool completely, they're rolled in a second round of sugar, followed by a dense sprinkling of matcha powder. Sinful and unique, these gems are the star of any potluck or dinner party. Trust me, I've tried 'em out at a few.

Pistachio Lime + Matcha Snowballs

From Alternative Baker by Alanna Taylor-Tobin
*Makes about 32 1.5" cookies*

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (100 g) organic blonde cane sugar
  • zest from 3 large limes (about 4 packed teaspoons/8 g)
  • 1 cup (125 g) blanched almond flour
  • 1/2 cup (55 g) oat flour
  • 1/4 cup (30 g) tapioca starch
  • 1 tablespoon (4 g) matcha, plus extra for sprinkling the tops
  • ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 cup (125 g) raw pistachios, chopped semi-fine (1/8-1/4" pieces)
  • 8 tablespoons (113 g) cold, unsalted butter, diced
  • 3/4 cup (90 grams) powdered sugar

Directions

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350ºF (175ºC). Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place the sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and add the lime zest. Mix on low until the sugar is moistened, 1-2 minutes. Add the almond, oat and tapioca flours, matcha powder, salt, and chopped pistachios and stir on low to combine, 30 seconds. Scatter the butter pieces over the top and mix on medium-low until the butter is completely rubbed into the dough and the dough comes together in large clumps, 3-5 minutes.

Sift the powdered sugar into a shallow bowl. Form tablespoon-sized 1" balls of dough and roll them in the powdered sugar, knocking off any large clumps. Place the balls on the baking sheet spacing them at least 1-inch (2 cm) apart. Bake the cookies until puffed, cracked and slightly golden, 14-18 minutes. The cookies will be soft at first but will crisp up when cool.

Let the cookies cool completely on the pan, then roll each one a second time in the powdered sugar. Dust the tops with a bit of matcha pushed through a small strainer. They will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week.


Alanna's cookbook release party was hosted by Sarah aka Snixy Kitchen in her cute home in Richmond. I was excited to finally meet some of Alanna's family members and a few blogger folks in person (like Todd from Honestly Yum), hang with dear friends I don't see often enough (like Amisha aka The Jam Lab and Asha aka Food Fashion Party), and to try out a few other delicious dishes from Alternative Baker. Alanna even autographed some books for the hungry crowd ;)

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Purchase a copy of Alternative Baker at your local bookstore or here. Or buy 20 of them, like I did, and give them to everyone you know because it makes an amazing gift!

Lemons For Days

If you had access to a never-ending supply of organic citrus like lemons, mandarin oranges, Meyer lemons, and even the super-awkward but incredibly fragrant Buddha's Hands…what would you do? If you're anything like me, the answer is bake excessive amounts of goodies. Some friends of mine live on a mountain just outside of Napa, where fruit trees are overflowing with goodness. I recently visited to harvest some of this beautiful citrus! 

Our sweet little helper, Jules, poses with some of the stash!

Our sweet little helper, Jules, poses with some of the stash!

Buddha's Hands win for strangest fruit. 

Buddha's Hands win for strangest fruit. 

 While I was there, I also snapped a few quick photos of this cute family.

Spencer, Jessie + Jules.

Spencer, Jessie + Jules.

Jessie in the garden.

Jessie in the garden.

My lemon-themed baking frenzy began with a few dozen Lemon Meltaways using a recipe adapted from Southern Living Magazine. They turned out really beautifully, and YES, they absolutely do melt in your mouth!

Never worked with batter like this before. It was light and fluffy as a cloud...

Never worked with batter like this before. It was light and fluffy as a cloud...

These little gems are rolled in powdered sugar when still warm from the oven.

These little gems are rolled in powdered sugar when still warm from the oven.

The bulk of the citrus harvested was donated to a friend, but with what I squirreled away for myself, I whipped up a handful of lemony vinaigrettes for salads, drank endless tea with lemon and local honey, and froze juice in an ice cube tray for easy hummus-making in the near future. My sister made preserved lemons for use on pizzas and pastas. Now that our stock from this pick has depleted, I luckily have a little Meyer lemon tree of my own in our front yard, and its crop is nearly ripe! Looks like my lemon obsession is here to stay — loving it, and sharing the bounty with my friends and neighbors along the way!

 

TK's Chocolate Chippers

Thomas Keller is one of the food world's most respected chefs. I could go on and on about how much his dishes inspire me, but let's cut to the chase: this man makes a mean chocolate chip cookie! My favorite thing about his basic recipe (from the Ad Hoc cookbook) is that you can really make it your own - each time we make these, we add in a new ingredient to keep the experience unique. Sometimes we'll add a tablespoon of freshly ground espresso, or maybe some shredded coconut along with some coconut extract, and we ALWAYS sprinkle some pink flaked sea salt to the tops of the cookies! They're soft and melty on the inside and crispy on the outside, just the way my dream cookie should be...and the combination of dark and milk chocolates used creates a perfect balance of sweetness and richness.

Both versatile and reliable, these cookies will never disappoint. And if you're anything like me, you occasionally enjoy having a cookie with your evening tea, but you don't want a whole batch just sitting around (I'm a cookie monster - if they're there, I'll eat them all). Solution: this dough can be stored in the freezer for up to two weeks, so just slice off a piece of the dough and make as few (or as many!) cookies at one time as you please. Woop woop!

Find the recipe online here. Photos by Matt Morris.