Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Little Blessings: Cream Cheese & Pistachio Cinnamon Twists

So I'm reading before bed last night, like I do most nights, and in the acknowledgements section of Still Life by Louise Penny (a great book if you dig crime fiction or if you've ever loved Agatha Christie like I do) I come across this:

I went through a period in my life when I had no friends, when the phone never rang,
when I thought I would die from loneliness.  I know that the real blessing
here isn't that I have a book published, but that there
are so many people to thank.    

Louise Penny nailed it, no?  I haven't felt the pit of loneliness for a very long time, but I remember it.    Sometimes the void was filled with chocolate or inadequate boyfriends and we all know the former is better than the latter.  Friendships truly are little blessings - be it old friends who knew you when you had the baddest hair and biggest glasses, or new friends you met over Twitter.  There's a bulletin board in my den, and it's absolutely plastered with photos of loved ones - from the faded pic of me and my sis sitting on our pet cow Susie when we were 3 and 5, to the latest pic of a sweet friend's little boys.  There is no room for lonely here.

Speaking of Twitter, a few of us gathered this past Saturday morning to meet in real life.  Sorta like a blind date but a lot less awkward.  I'm a bit of a dork in that I like to bring treats for people when I first meet them.  I once brought a boy green beans from my garden on a first date.  He never called back.  Ahem.  Anyway - I figured the ladies wouldn't mind a little cinnamon twist action, and I was right.  It was non-stop conversation for two hours, sipping delicious coffee and nibbling on these little morsels of goodness.  And they haven't unfollowed me yet so we are all good!

So cinnamon twists!  Let's do this!  The dough isn't that sweet, but full of cream cheese and butter (like you would expect anything less?)  It comes together in a snap, let it chill for a bit, then chop some pistachios.  My fingers hurt from shelling so many!  Combine them with brown sugar and cinnamon.  Done.

Roll out your dough, and use a plate to trim the edges neatly.  Apparently my plate was made in China.  

Brush with egg white and sprinkle your pistachio filling.  Cut into 16 triangles. 

And roll up.  Easy!

Bake for about 18 minutes, until golden, and I know you'll snatch them off the pan while they are still hot.  You may or may not burn your mouth like I did.  So worth it!  Flaky, buttery pastry with a hint of cream cheese, wrapped around a semi-sweet nutty filling.  Word of warning:  given their size, you may find yourself devouring one in a single bite; two bites max.  Addiction may ensue. The smell of cinnamon filling your kitchen will make you want to call your dear friend.  Or book a ticket to see her, like I just did last week.  The charge on the credit card hurts the bank balance, but is so good for the soul.  There is nothing better than seeing the face of an old friend at the arrivals gate.  I can't wait. 

Cream Cheese & Pistachio Cinnamon Twists

1 cup butter, at room temp
1 cup cream cheese, at room temp
1 tbsp granulated sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt (only if your butter is unsalted)
1 egg white beaten with 1 tbsp water, for glazing
granulated sugar, for sprinkling
1 cup pistachios, shelled, finely chopped
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
2 tsp cinnamon

In the bowl of a mixer, beat the butter, cream cheese, and sugar until soft.  Stir in the flour, baking powder and salt.  Mix slowly until all combined and it forms a soft dough.  Gather into a ball, and on a lightly floured surface, cut into 3 equal pieces.  Flatten each piece into a disc shape.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
While the dough is chilling, finely chop the pistachios.  Put them in a bowl along with the brown sugar and cinnamon.  Give it a stir. 
On a lightly floured surface, roll each piece of dough out into a circle so it's fairly thin.  Place a dinner plate over the circle and trim the excess.  Brush with the egg white/water combo and sprinkle with one third of the pistachio filling.  Cut the circle into 4 sections, then each section into 4, so you'll have 16 triangles.  Roll each triangle up, from the widest part to the point.  Place on a parchment lined bake sheet, brush with egg white and sprinkle with sugar.  Bake in a preheated 350*F oven for about 18-19 minutes, until golden.  Repeat this process with the other 2 pieces of dough.  Recipe makes 48 little cinnamon twists.  Adapted from The Cookie Book, by Catherine Atkinson, Joanna Farrow and Valerie Barrett

My friend and co-worker Agata lent me this recipe.  She's leaving soon, and I will miss being inspired by her wonderful creations in the bake shop.  These will be a sweet reminder of my friend. 


  1. These look delicious Renee! Great post. So happy you are going to see your friend.

  2. This looks like a delicious treat. Old friends and new are such a blessing. "I once brought a boy green beans from my garden on a first date" - SO sweet:)

  3. Glad you were able to meet up with some Tweets in person. They must have been delighted with these treats. They look delicious.

  4. Well, of course the ladies liked you- 1) for your fun, fabulous personality and 2) for these divine looking treats. How could they not? What a great idea- to meet your Twitter buds IRL. Austin is such a small, big town that I often do get to meet many local folks on Twitter but if there were some way to meet all of you flung throughout the world, that would be a dream. Maybe one day... I need to think of an excuse to travel to Saskatoon!

  5. Thanks you guys! Shelley, it would be so much fun to meet far flung twitter friends in real life. Could you imagine?!! One day I'll get my butt down to Austin - I have a feeling I'd love it there!

  6. Sorry! Fatal spelling error! Here we go...

    I...am one of the Tweets! I tasted these in person for real! They are so yummy. I would never dream of unfollowing you, in fact I might move in with you. #toosoon? Seriously, way better choice than the green beans, although it's the thought, you know?

  7. OH!! Can. not. wait!!! And these look delish as well!!

  8. Tracy, you're hilarious! Stacy, me too - 80 days!

  9. I'm a big fan of Louise Penny too, Renee & when I read that in her book, I thought "how could someone who writes like this NOT have a ton of friends!?" we'll have to sneak in some talk about mysteries in one of our foodie get togethers (maybe over these treats.....) Karen C

  10. The twists look so very good, and I love your words, Renee! I'm so glad we're twitter friends :)

  11. Made these... SO EASY, and DELICIOUS. My guests devoured them :)


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