I hadn’t baked anything since before the baby was born. But yesterday while Levi and Dad were taking an afternoon nap, I jumped on the opportunity, turned on the Jackie Greene Pandora station and made these pine nut and orange cookies that I’ve been eyeing in Fine Cooking because they use olive oil instead of butter. When I went to the store and saw that pine nuts were $34 a pound I thought to myself, “These better be good cookies!” (Don’t worry – the recipe only uses 1/2 a cup, which turns out to be $5 worth of pine nuts).
The dough was slightly stressful to work with because it was so crumbly. You really have to squeeze it tight in your hands to make it stay together in a ball. When you press down on the ball of dough with a sugared glass, the edges sort of crack and break apart, which looks pretty, but is also stress-inducing. I was doubtful if they would stay together, but sure enough, when they baked they held their shape, and they looked beautiful. The texture of these cookies reminded me of biscotti. They’re slightly crunchy, flavorful, and rich from the olive oil.
Pine Nut & Orange Cookies
(From the Aug./Sept. issue of Fine Cooking)
1/2 cup pine nuts
1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar; more for rolling
3 Tbs. finely grated orange zest (from 2 medium oranges)
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large egg, beaten
- Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F.
- Toast the pine nuts on a rimmed baking sheet, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl to cool.
- In a medium bowl, stir the flour, sugar, zest, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and pine nuts. In a small bowl, whisk the oil and egg and add to the dry ingredients. Mix with your hands until the dough is evenly moist and holds together when squeezed, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Fill a small bowl with about 1/4 cup sugar. Pinch off 1 rounded teaspoonful of dough (about 1/2 oz.). Shape it into a ball, coat it in the sugar, and set it in on a light-colored nonstick cookie sheet. Dip the bottom of a drinking glass in the sugar and flatten the cookie to slightly less than 1/4 inch thick. Repeat to make 13 more cookies.
- Bake until the tops are golden and the edges are brown, 9 to 13 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the sheet for several minutes, then transfer them to a rack to cool completely. While the first batch of cookies bakes, shape the remaining dough into cookies and arrange on a second cookie sheet. When the first batch is done, bake the second batch.
- The cookies will keep in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.