Love and Olive Oil
Chocolate Pistachio Cream Thumbprints

Chocolate Pistachio Cream Thumbprints

If you love pistachio gelato, you’ll love these delightful little cookies, with a rich chocolate shortbread and a center of luxurious pistachio cream.

Thumbprints are one of my all time favorite cookie recipes, and this chocolate pistachio one is no exception; dare I say I love it even more than my go-to jam-filled thumbprints? Chocolate shortbread paired with a creamy pistachio filling takes this old favorite to a whole new level.

Chocolate Pistachio Cream Thumbprint Recipe

Rewind to last year in Venice when three gelati a day was not an unusual occurrence. But out of all the cups and cones and scoops, the one that stuck out the most was the Manet flavor from SuSo (called that, I assume because it is truly a work of art). With a rich and creamy hazelnut base and a ribbon of salted pistachio gianduja swirled throughout; it was, to put it simply, life changing.

On our last day we all agreed we needed one last scoop (ok, three scoops). As we were waiting in the tiny, unassuming shop, trying to decide which of the many other delicious flavors to round out our cones (because a scoop of Manet was a given), I noticed a small stack of jars on a shelf in the corner. Upon closer inspection I discovered that this was the stuff, the magic pistachio concoction used in the Manet gelato. I immediately grabbed a jar (I paid for it, promise) which I lovingly wrapped in my fluffiest sweatshirt and carted back home with me to the states.

…where it has since sat in the fridge, untouched, for nearly 9 months.

Chocolate Pistachio Cream Thumbprints, rolled in pistachios and filled with a salted pistachio gianduja

Please tell me I’m not the only one who ‘savors’ special delicacies like this? Hoarding them, not wanting to use them up, until, inevitably, they expire. Whether it be Swiss chocolate or Japanese KitKats or Portuguese sardines, I fully admit it: I’m a hoarder. Such a travesty, and I’m really working hard to fix this fatal flaw about myself, trying not to hoard the goodness I bring home from my travels, but rather enjoy it and not let it go to waste.

So I set about using this little jar of wonder. And when I say little, I do mean miniscule. Far too small to use in a batch of homemade gelato, for instance.

However the idea of a pistachio thumbprint, a chocolate pistachio thumbprint, fluttered through my mind, and once it had, I couldn’t unthink it. It engulfed my thoughts, sending me on a wild internet search for pistachio pastes and creams and butters from all corners of the globe.

I couldn’t rest until this cookie became a reality.

And, oh, what a wonderful reality it is.

Chocolate shortbread thumbprints filled with salted pistachio cream

The chocolate shortbread is rich and buttery, somewhere in between a sable and a sugar cookie.

I rolled half the cookies in finely chopped pistachios, and left the other half plain for contrast. I like the extra crunch the nuts bring to the party, however the naked ones were just as delicious (because, let’s face it, the filling is really the star of the show here).

Speaking of that filling: it’s surprising how simply mixing pistachio butter and white chocolate produces something this divine. Almost velvety in texture, soft to the bite but firm enough that it won’t ooze onto your fingers, with a mellow pistachio flavor and just the right amount of salt to offset the subtle sweetness. Dare I say it tastes a bit like pistachio gelato, with a bit more salt and a lot less brain freeze.

I added a touch of pistachio extract to amp up the pistachio flavor even more (pistachio extract being the primary flavor of pistachio gelato, since actual pistachios are really quite mild). This is totally optional, but a little bit in both the cookies and the filling makes for a truly delicious bite.

Chocolate Pistachio Cream Thumbprints

Funnily enough, the jar that inspired it all didn’t actually make it into the final recipe. As much as I love the pistachio gianduja from SuSo, it turns out the consistency is far too thin for these cookies, it obviously being better suited to more frosty applications. (Don’t worry, I shan’t let it go to waste!)

Instead, I set about creating a filling with a similar flavor profile but a better consistency for this particular recipe, made from pistachio butter, white chocolate and a bit of sugar and salt.

Pistachio butter vs pistachio paste vs pistachio cream

Pistachio cream, paste, butter… what’s the difference?

There’s no hard and fast designation, but generally, pistachio butter is just plain pistachios with a bit of oil and/or salt.

Pistachio paste is typically sweetened, often with added flavoring like almond extract and green coloring. This is what gelato makers use to flavor their frozen creations, and it’s surprisingly hard to find outside of giant food-service sized tubs.

Pistachio cream, on the other hand, is heaven in a jar. It’s a sweetened pistachio spread similar in consistency to nutella, sweetened and enriched with cocoa butter, milk powder, and other ingredients (in other words, basically pistachio and white chocolate since the main ingredients of white chocolate are, in fact, cocoa butter, milk powder and vanilla). Pistachio cream varies quite a bit from brand to brand. I bought a few different kinds and liked Pariani and Fiasconaro brands the best (the former had a more robust flavor, while the later was a prettier green color).

Since pistachio cream isn’t exactly cheap (or easy to come by), and I didn’t want this recipe to be reliant on such a specialty product, I decided to made a semi-homemade version with pistachio butter and white chocolate. It’s essentially a white chocolate pistachio gianduja (normally a mix of milk chocolate and hazelnut) and let me tell you is it fantastic and I can imagine myriad delicious ways in which to use it (pistachio truffles, anyone)?

Pistachio butter vs pistachio paste vs pistachio cream

I tried a few different brands of pistachio butter, and ultimately liked the richer green color of the one from The Pistachio Factory the best. Fiddyment Farms makes a lovely tasting butter too, albeit less saturated in color (they actually call it a paste, but it’s not sweetened at all, just pure pistachio). You can also make your own pistachio butter very easily using just raw pistachios and a pinch of salt.

The white chocolate also has the added benefit of setting as it cools, like a creamy truffle center, making for a cookie that can be stacked or piled without getting filling everywhere (can you say, perfect party cookie?) If you used straight pistachio butter or jarred pistachio cream, the filling would stay more fluid and you’d need to be more careful transporting or storing the cookies.

That said, you can certainly use pistachio cream right out of the jar in these cookies to save yourself some time. Or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, you could even make a totally from-scratch version starting with homemade pistachio butter (home appliances can’t achieve the same smooth texture as store-bought, so your centers will be more rustic).

The secret to super green pistachios

But Lindsay, how’d you get your pistachios so green?!?

I’m sure you’ve noticed that if you buy a bag of pre-shelled pistachios, even raw ones, they are usually seriously lacking in the color department. I mean, that top bowl of nuts is disappointing, to say the least.

Baking Tip: for prettier, greener pistachios, start with raw in-shell pistachios rather than shelled. Blanch and peel to reveal the electric green kernels underneath.

Indeed the secret to vibrant green pistachios is to start with raw, whole pistachios. Remove the shells, then blanch the nuts in boiling water for 30 seconds. Drain, rinse in cold water, and then peel (the blanching should make the thin brown skins easier to remove). I’ve seen recipes say you can rub the blanched nuts with a clean kitchen towel to more quickly remove the skins, but that didn’t work very well for me so I peeled them one at a time. Yes, it’s a tedious process (and now you know why high quality pistachio spreads are so pricey).

After peeling, spread the nuts out to dry on a layer of paper towels, then grind into nut butter or finely chop for a vibrant green garnish.

If you’re making homemade pistachio butter, this will produce a much more vibrant final product. However, if you opt not to blanch and peel the nuts first, you’ll end up with a butter that’s more brown in color, but still perfectly delicious.

Chocolate Pistachio Cream Thumbprints

One quirk about these cookies to note: much like my jam thumbprints, these cookies, for whatever reason, bake up better on a light to medium colored cookie sheet. I baked a few cookies on three different cookie sheets just to test, and sure enough, the batch baked on the heavy aluminum cookie sheet turned out the best. Darker/nonstick cookie sheets tended to get a bit ruffly around the edges and crispier on the bottoms.

If you’re having issues with these cookies spreading a bit too much, try a different cookie sheet before you try anything else. You can also try chilling the dough briefly. Cool room temperature dough is ideal here, it should still be fairly pliable or the cookies will crack when you shape them.

For me at least, refrigerating/freezing the shaped cookies before baking them didn’t produce any noticeable differences, but if your kitchen is on the warm side it certainly wouldn’t hurt.

Also: now that I have all these various pistachio products sitting around you can bet your bottom dollar I’ll be baking some gelato!

Chocolate Pistachio Cream Thumbprints

Chocolate Pistachio Cream Thumbprints

If you love pistachio gelato, you’ll love the chocolate pistachio thumbprints, with a rich chocolate shortbread, nutty pistachios, and a center of luxurious pistachio cream.
5 stars (9 reviews)


For Chocolate Thumbprints:

  • 10 tablespoons / 142 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • cup / 140 g granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk, reserve the white if you will be rolling in nuts
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon pistachio extract, optional
  • 1 ¼ cups / 156 g all-purpose flour
  • cup / 33 g dutch-processed cocoa powder, sifted
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ½ cup / 60 g coarsely chopped pistachios, optional, for rolling (this is enough to coat half the cookies, if you want to roll all of them, use a full cup)

For Pistachio Cream Filling:

  • 1.5 ounces / 43 g white chocolate, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons / 48 g pistachio butter
  • 2 teaspoons / 4 g powdered sugar, sifted
  • teaspoon fine sea salt
  • teaspoon pistachio extract, optional
  • teaspoon vanilla powder, optional


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a light or medium-colored heavy-weight baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  • Beat together butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in egg yolk, vanilla and pistachio extract.
  • Sift together flour, cocoa powder, and salt until evenly distributed. Add to mixing bowl with butter mixture, and mix on low speed until just incorporated and mixture comes together into a stiff dough. If your dough seems too crumbly, you can add 1-2 teaspoons of milk as needed to bring it together, however know your cookies might spread a bit more as a result.
  • Roll dough into 1-inch balls and arrange on prepared baking sheet.
  • For plain cookies, flatten balls slightly with your thumb or the back of a round 1/2 teaspoon measuring spoon, leaving an indentation in the center. You don't want to press all the way down, just enough to form an indentation without the dough around it cracking. Dip the back of your measuring spoon in flour first so it doesn't stick.
  • For nut-coated cookies, lightly dip the ball of dough into reserved egg white, then roll between your palms until it's thinly coated with egg white. Roll in chopped pistachios until evenly covered, then place on baking sheet, then press with your thumb or measuring spoon to indent.
  • Bake cookies for 10 to 12 minutes or until centers are set and slightly puffed and edges are slightly darker in color. Remove baking sheet from oven.
  • While the cookies are still warm, redefine the indentations with the same measuring spoon you used initially. They will have puffed a bit while baking, so doing this gives you room for your filling.
  • While the cookies are cooling, make your filling. Place white chocolate in a small, microwave-safe bowl. Warm in the microwave on 50% power, stirring every 30 seconds, until melted and smooth.
  • Stir in pistachio butter, powdered sugar, sea salt, pistachio extract and vanilla powder until smooth.
  • Spoon 1/2 teaspoon of filling into the center of each cookie, taking care not to overflow the thumbprint (you might need slightly more or less filling per cookie depending on the size of your indentations).
  • Let cool at room temperature for about 2 hours until set, or speed up the process by refrigerating the cookies for 10 to 15 minutes until centers are no longer shiny.
  • Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
All images and text © for Love & Olive Oil.

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  1. Oh, these look so good! I’m considering making them for an August Christmas Cookie Table conference. I would need to make 12 dozen, so I would need to make them early… have you tried freezing these? If not, I am thinking I could make the cookies, freeze them, them fill them when I take them out of the freezer and they’re back to room temperature. I would appreciate your thoughts!

    • I think your plan of freezing the unfilled cookies then thawing/filling is a good one! I’m not sure how the filling would hold up to being frozen.

  2. Esta crema de pistachio se puede usar para relleno de torta? Gracias 🇦🇷

  3. I made these today because I wanted something fun to do with a jar of pistachio cream a friend had brought me from Italy. Stumbled on this recipe, and this may be the perfect cookie! Next time I’ll be brave enough to make the homemade filling!

  4. Rating: 5

    Lovely recipe! I skipped rolling half of them in pistachios and kept them all plain, with filling. They were so scrumptous! Lovely chocolate flavor. The filling was a bit sweet for us, if I make this recipe again I will play with the sugar levels in the filling :)

  5. Rating: 5

    Yum! I typically avoid recipes that call for one special ingredient that I don’t normally keep on hand. In this case, it was the pistachio butter. Worth the extra purchase! These cookies are delicious with a rich chocolate flavor and creamy pistachio centers. 

  6. Reading the description of your gelato experience at Suso – Venezia was like going back in time 7 years ago! Like a kindred spirit, I too was blown away by the amazing flavour of the Manet gelato and had to go one last time on my last morning there as well for one more fix 🤣🍨. So it was with much excitement I tried this cookie recipe, and you did not disappoint!! Just an incredible combination of flavours. I used Favuzzi pistachio cream to which I added a bit of melted white Callebaut chocolate. It set up perfectly! Thank you for posting this little work of culinary art! Perfetto!!💚💚💚

  7. A new favorite! Such great rich chocolate flavor and the nutty center is delicious. My crème filling was quite dry and moldable. Used 1/2 tsp like an ice cream scope and put little dollops in the center, still so delicious! 

  8. Beautiful cookies. Can the egg be replaced with something vegetarian? 

    • Eggs are vegetarian, just not vegan. Unfortunately I have not tested this recipe with egg substitutes so I cannot say whether it would work.

  9. Just made these with some pistachio cream from Costco! Was tired of eating in on toast. The cookies are delicious and I was especially happy with the pistachio rolled style as well. Mine kind of look like dinosaur eggs 😄

  10. Hi!
    These look delicious and I am planning to make them tomorrow for my brother who adores pistachios!!  I have a pistachio cream I have been saving for this recipe!
    I am wondering if I should toast the chopped pistachios before baking?
    I will post a review after making them!  I’m sure they will be divine! :D
    Thank you! :D

  11. Thank you. I bought 2 large jars of Sicilian pistachio paste (just nuts and olive oil) in SF not long ago and, as I too love to hoard specialty ingredients, have not used much of them. These will be a great holiday cookie.

  12. Perhaps I am missing something obvious, but I have to ask: where might I find your recipe for pistachio butter? I am obsessed with anything pistachio and can’t wait to try this wonderful-sounding recipe! Thank you for sharing>

    • I used store bought (linked to the brand I used in the post). I can never really get it smooth enough or green enough when I do homemade.

  13. I just made these and they are gorgeous! Thanks for the recipe!

  14. These look amazing I cant wait to make them! Question though – most jarred pistachio creams that I’ve seen say to refrigerate after opening (although I’m not really sure why). Is that not a worry with these? Thanks!

    • If there is any dairy ingredients in them then yes, they likely need refrigeration. The recipe just calls for pistachio butter though, which is fine and stable at room temp. Refrigerating definitely wouldn’t hurt the cookies though!

  15. I just cracked open a jar of pistachio cream we brought back from Sicily last year, and OMG – delicious! Since it’s going to expire in a month, I’d like to use it in these cookies. What do you think of stiffening the pistachio cream with some powdered sugar (like a quick bread glaze)? Too sweet?

  16. Do you know if these can be frozen?

    • I have not tested freezing these; the dough definitely can though, so I’d recommend to shape your dough balls with the thumbprints and freeze them like that. Then when you’re ready to serve them you can bake and fill them at that point?

  17. These were some of the most delicious cookies I’ve ever made. My hubby didn’t want me to share them with anyone!  I used a little kaluah to bring the dough together. So good!

  18. I just made a batch and they are delicious! :) To remove the skins from the pistachios I used a plush microfiber towel – gentle yet with enough texture to easily remove the skins.

    • I noticed these cookies call for Dutch processed cocoa powder, would it be okay to substitute it for normal? I looked it up online and most sites say to adjust baking powder/soda for substitutes, but this recipe doesn’t have either. Thank you!

  19. Hello! What pistachio extract do you recommend using? Trying to avoid brands that are faking the flavor. Thank you!

  20. Did you need to temper the white chocolate or melting it and letting it cool okay?
    Would tempering be better?

  21. What can you do to make the pistachio cream more solid ? I’d like to stack these in cookie plates with other cookies and it seems the pistachio cream is tacky , soft to the touch  

    • It does set up somewhat, the photos here were taken when it was still slightly warm. After a few hours at cool room temperature they will set up enough to stack, chill them to get it even firmer. You could also try using more white chocolate for the same quantity of pistachio butter, which should give you a firmer set as well.

  22. They spreaded all over like a thin cookie -.- What went wrong?!

    • Hmm I’m not sure, that’s never happened to me before! Did you follow the recipe as written or did you make any substitutions?

    • I have the very same problem!! 2 batches ruin already and I have no idea why it happens :’(

      • Did you make any substitutions or adjustments? What kind/brand of flour and butter did you use? The cookies shouldn’t spread much at all so I’m not sure exactly what happened here.

    • I had the same problem. Though mine turned out fine, because I added more butter to hold the dough together better. Delicious and so pretty!

    • Hi, I notice there is no raising agent in this cookie like Baking Powder or Baking Soda. Am I missing something?

  23. I am so excited to come across this recipe. I traveled last year across Italy and spent a week in Sicily. I ate every pistachio I came across. My all time favorite (besides gelato) where the pistachio filled cookies and crossiants. I still have dreams about these for breakfast with a good cup of coffee. I’ve been trying to figure out how to make this perfect filling. Thank you so much for this recipe and links. I am beside my self to try this!!

  24. I love anything pistachio. While shopping at an Italian market recently I found a jar of pistachio paste and had to buy it, even though I had no idea how to use it. Can this recipe be made using the paste vs. cream?

    • The recipe for the filling calls for pistachio butter, which is unsweetened (just ground up pistachios). Pistachio cream will likely have sugar, cocoa butter and other flavorings/additions, so it’s not a direct substitution. You could use the cream itself as the filling with no adjustments, though it will probably be softer and won’t set up quite like the filling I’ve made. If you plan to ship the cookies, for example, you might want the filling to set up so it doesn’t get all over the place.

  25. I recently returned from Italy with a jar of pistachio cream and chopped Sicilian pistachios. Wasn’t sure what i would be doing with them until i came across your recipe. Wow. I followed the recipe exact minus the pistachio extract as i couldn’t find it at my local store. These cookies are amazing. I was surprised how easily they came together. The taste and texture were superb. I will be sharing these on my Instagram! 

  26. I had a jar of pistachio cream from Italy sitting in my fridge and found this recipe. These cookies taste divine! The chocolate shortbread is absolutely scrumptious. Thanks so much for sharing!

  27. Hi Lindsay, my nephew just returned from studying abroad in Italy and brought me back pistachio cream. It is DELICIOUS!  Thumbprints are a favorite so I can’t wait to make these or…. some gelato! Thank you!

  28. These are delicious!  I had prepared pistachio butter I’d bought at a Fair as it was so yummy but then wasn’t sure how to use it. So glad I found this recipe. I took them to a potluck and they disappeared quickly. Lots of positive comments. The next time I make them I will roll them all in crushed pistachios 

  29. Thank you so much for this post!! I too, have recently tried Suso’s manet flavoured gelato and was mind blown by the taste of it! I was travelling across Europe for the past year and taking note of interesting flavours and flavour combinations, trying to incorporate them into my recipes and Suso’s manet was one of them! However I didn’t notice the jars of pistachio spread when I was there – I would have loved to buy one and try to recreate it! I don’t usually leave a comments but your post resonated with me I had to. Looking forward to try your recipe soon!

  30. Look delicious!
    Thanks for sharing such a delicious recipe.

  31. These cookies are perfect! I had to try the recipe straight away but I made mine with peanut butter & a mix of dark & milk chocolate. They were not as pretty, but so yummie!

  32. Can I sub milk or semisweet chocolate for the white “chocolate?”

    • I haven’t tried it but I think it would work much the same way, however the filling would likely be a good bit firmer than the white chocolate version.

  33. YUM! I love chocolate and pistachio together! These cookies look amazing ♥

  34. These look amazing! And I, too, am guilty of hoarding food souvenirs…

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