I worked at an ice-cream shop when I was at university. One of the perks of the job was taking home a couple of generous scoops of Chocolate Ecstasy and Chocolate Mud, topped with hot fudge, at the end of every shift. My sweet tooth became extremely well developed, and got used to a constant supply of rich, creamy chocolate.
My university years provided enough sugar to fill my lifetime quota. I don’t eat many sweet things these days, but when I do, I go for quality over quantity, and opt for something a little more subtle than a triple choc sundae.
We had friends over for lunch on Sunday and I needed something sweet to round out a simple meal of cauliflower soup served with ham, cheese and pear toasties. The market had offered up crisp, fragrant red apples as well as plump mandarins and I grabbed more of those walnuts I found last week. I had the beginnings of a winter fruit platter but it needed something extra.
These Pine Nut and Rosemary Cookies provided the sweetness I wanted in a rather posh way. They’re a sweet biscuit with an unexpected savoury note. The sugar cookie base bakes up into a beautifully even shape that is slightly chewy. A savoury, forrest-inspired overtone is added with the pine nuts and rosemary. This is helped along with a good-quality olive oil. The cookies are still sweet, but with a more grown-up demeanour than your average biscuit.
I made these cookies with a hand-held electric whisk. If you have a big electric mixer, your life must be filled with wonderful baked things, and these cookies will be even simpler to make. Spreading your cookie dough balls over a few cookie sheets results in a much more even bake. When placing your baking paper or parchment on your cookie sheets, sprinkle some water on the sheet before laying down the paper. This will keep the paper in place nicely.
When served with a cup of coffee, these cookies provide a not-too-sweet, and rather interesting, finish to a lazy Sunday lunch. They’re not bad for Monday afternoon tea either.
Pine Nut and Rosemary Cookies
This is a Martha Stewart recipe. Martha says it makes 6 1/2 dozen, I got 42 out of the batch I made.
- 3 1/2 teaspoons coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
- 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted, plus more for topping cookies
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon bicarb (baking) soda
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
- 10 tablespoons (140g or 1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1 large egg
- Caster (sanding) sugar, for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 260C / 325F.
Finely chop rosemary and pine nuts, either by hand or in a food processor. Transfer to a large bowl and whisk in 2 cups of flour, the bicarb (baking) soda, ginger, salt and set aside.
Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer (I used a hand mixer, but a paddle attachment on a KitchenAid would have made life easier). Mix on high speed until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Mix in oil and reduce speed to low. Mix in flour mixture. Add cream and mix well to combine, about 2 minutes. Mix in the egg and the remaining 1/4 cup flour.
Shape dough into small (3/4 inch) balls and space 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with baking paper. Flatten slightly with fingers and top each with a pine nut. Sprinkle with caster (sanding) sugar.
Bake cookies, rotating sheets half way through, until the edges are golden, about 13-14 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes on sheets on wire racks. Transfer cookies to racks to cool completely.
Cookies can be stored in airtight containers up to 3 days.