Monday, April 15, 2013

Procrastination (With Extra Virgin Olive Oil)

I do some of my best work when I supposed to be doing something else.

Right now I’m supposed to be reading/correcting galleys for the revised edition of Bittersweet, which will come out in October (provided that I finish reading/correcting). The new title is Seriously Bitter Sweet. I’ve begun to think of it (affectionately) as SERIOUS BS, but we’re not mentioning this to anyone. My deadline is looming.

Otherwise I’m supposed to be testing recipes for yet another new book. My deadline is looming on this as well.

I’m also supposed to be developing a fun recipe for the back of a healthy cereal package. That deadline seems to be staring at me too.

Why, then,  am I trying out a new cookie recipe with extra virgin olive oil?  You tell me.   


Extra virgin olive oil and a hint of pepper make these slender crunchy nut cookies extra good. The flavors are subtle but sophisticated— they grow on you. You’ll find yourself eating more of them than you expected to eat. Delicious and interesting. Strawberries should taste good with them, or cup of oolong might be the perfect, but I am much too busy to try either of those. I have deadlines looming.

I shape the dough free form on a sheet of foil before chilling and slicing, but you can use a loaf pan to control the shape if that seems easier. 

Makes about three dozen 4 to 5 -inch cookies.

2/3 cup (76 grams) raw hazelnuts
1 1/4 cup (160 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons (110 grams) sugar
3/8 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black or white pepper
6 tablespoons (80 grams) extra virgin olive oil (a lovely evoo from California would be good)
4 teaspoons cold water

Food processor
1 or 2 baking sheets lined with parchment
5 x 9=inch loaf pan, optional

Combine hazelnuts, flour, sugar, salt, and pepper in a food processor, and pulse until the hazelnuts are finely chopped. Drizzle in the olive oil. Pulse until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs.  Add the water and pulse just until the mixture resembles damp crumbs---it should not be a smooth mass—but it should stick together when you press it.  Pulse in a bit of extra water if necessary.

If using a loaf pan, line the bottom and sides with foil.  Dump the mixture into the pan and spread it evenly.  Press it very firmly, making a thin layer.  Or, dump the mixture onto a sheet of foil on a baking sheet and distribute it evenly over an area about 4 to 5 inches by 9 to 10 inches. Press it firmly, squaring up the edges, to make an even compact layer about 1/2 inch thick. Fold the foil over the dough and wrap it tightly. Refrigerate for 2 hours or over night.

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Position racks in the upper and lower third of the oven.

Unwrap the dough and transfer it to a cutting board. Use a long sharp knife to cut the dough crosswise, into scant 3/8 inch slices.  Use the knife to transfer the slice and lay it onto the cookie sheet.  Repeat, placing slices 1 inch apart. Slices will be fragile and require the support of the knife in transit.

Bake until cookies are golden brown, 15-18 minutes (time depends on thickness of cookies). Rotate the sheets from top to bottom and front to back half way through the baking time to ensure even baking.      

Slide the parchment carefully onto a rack or set the pans themselves on a rack to cool. Cool cookies completely before stacking or storing. Cookies may be stored, airtight, for several days.