baking · bars · comfort food · Cookies · dessert · easy · Life Updates · Party food

Pistachio Cookie Bars

Two weeks ago I had the incredible privilege of meeting Molly Yeh. Yes, really. She was a delight… how could she possibly be anything else? Her new cookbook is called Home Is Where the Eggs Are so she had a stamp for all the books that said “How is where the _______ are,” and for mine she wrote “cardamom buns.” If you know me, this is perfect. I was thrilled. Here is my face with the biggest smile it can possibly contain:

I usually try to “contain” my smile in photos. You know, so my eyes don’t squint so much, or maybe so my cheeks don’t get quite so full. I stifle the joy to be “cuter” in photos. You can see here that I forgot in this moment. This was a moment of pure, unfiltered happiness. Cheeks and all.

Ready to get personal? It’s what we fucking dooooo! Buckle up.

I thought meeting Molly Yeh would be the highlight of October, but then something way more impactful happened. Something that really caught me off guard not only in that it happened, but in how I felt about it. I met someone from my biological dad’s side of the family. It was something I had already accepted as not a possibility, and then that person reached out after not emailing me back for a year and said they wanted to meet me. We had been emailing prior to the year off somewhat regularly, though they kept any dad information pretty under wraps, and made it relatively clear that meeting wasn’t an option. I truly didn’t process the fact that we would be meeting for several days after confirming the time/date. Then, when we did meet last week (and shared fucking DONUTS – insert sobbing emoji), I didn’t process THAT information for several days. It wasn’t until a full 3 days later that I just fully started sobbing seemingly out of nowhere. It’s now been another 3 full days, and I am still downright weepy. The smallest thing will set me off. Not that I’m sad or upset, just hyper emotional. My brain literally doesn’t know how to handle this new information. I mean, what do you even say to someone you’ve spent your whole life looking for? I still don’t know.

I’ve accepted that my “bio-dad” is not interested in talking to me. That’s totally fine. Truly. But now there’s at least some puzzle pieces that have been put into place after a lifetime of having no idea where to start. I’m grateful for every single tiny shred of information, and any connections with that family that can be made. I’m extremely grateful to this person for letting me in. I cannot describe it, the level of gratitude. It’s simply unreal. (insert another sobbing emoji but also a heart emoji)

Incase you can’t tell, I’m having a lot of feelings.

Back to Molly. I’ve been obsessively reading her cookbook while listening to Taylor Swift’s new album. I hate when I fit into my stereotype, but I can’t help but love what I love! Taylor Swift’s new album is pure magic, but nothing will ever beat Folklore for me. It was like a warm hug during the depths of the pandemic, so nothing can ever compare. Molly’s recipes are the ideal accompaniment to the album, because they both feel cozy to me. Her recipes are unique but approachable. I opted to make something quick and easy first, partly because I have an unadulterated love of all things pistachio, and partly because I had just the right amount of ingredients on hand. I also added sprinkles, because it just seemed more Molly to me.

Pistachio Cookie Bars (from Home Is Where the Eggs Are by Molly Yeh)

Ingredients for bars:

1/2 cup salted butter (room temp)

4 ounces cream cheese (room temp)

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

Zest of 1/2 a lemon

1 large egg (room temp)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1 cup (130g) all-purpose flour

1/2 cup roasted pistachios, coarsely chopped, plus more for topping

Optional: a few drops of green food coloring

Ingredients for frosting:

1/2 cup unsalted butter (room temp)

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Pinch of salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

2 tablespoons heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8×8 baking dish with parchment paper (enough to allow for “wings” on each side) and grease with Cake Goop or butter/flour or baking spray. Set aside. In a stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream together butter, cream cheese, sugar, lemon zest, salt, and food coloring. Mix until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes (on medium high). Scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Add the egg, then vanilla and almond extracts and mix until fully combined. Reduce speed to low and mix in the flour and pistachios until just combined. Pour into prepared baking dish and spread out until its an even layer. Bake for 25ish minutes (Molly said start checking at 22 minutes, but I have a temperamental oven and a Pyrex baking dish). If your oven is calibrated correctly and you have a metal dish, then it’ll only need about 22 minutes. Check for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center. If it comes out clean, or with just a couple of crumbs, it’s done. Let cool fully in the pan (I didn’t wait enough time for it to cool because I was in a hurry, but it was fine).

For frosting: Whisk together all ingredients until smooth and creamy. Spread over cooled bars with an offset spatula. Sprinkle with pistachios (and sprinkles!). Cut into cute little squares and share with all your friends (or new family members!). Or you could save them all for yourself because you need extra comfort right now. Go ahead and nibble them under a fluffy blanket while wearing your favorite sweatpants (or no pants because that’s actually true comfort). Throw on some T-Swift and have a good cry.

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