Sunday, May 4, 2014

Savory Chocolate-Olive Shortbread Cookies

When I visited my mom in Asheville some weeks ago, we made Hannah's savory chocolate-olive shortbread cookies, because it was the weirdest thing I could think of.

But when your chocolate is realllly dark, and when your olives are oil-cured, the distance between them isn't actually so vast (though it does mean they end up being rather expensive cookies). The end product was deliciously interesting, and rich without being too heavy. Excellent with wine and pretty good with an amber ale as well. We did, however, struggle with keeping the dough from crumbling when we sliced it, no matter how finely we chopped the chocolate and the olives. Next time I might look at this other recipe for savory freezer cookies I once made and see if there are any adjustments I might import to the chocolate-olive recipe. You could also definitely play around with the herbs and spices. Maybe cinnamon or nutmeg? Or maybe sesame seeds? Or cayenne?

(we also experimented with nut-based vegan caesar dressings, and I can't decide between this walnut one and this tahini one)

Savory Chocolate-Olive Cookies
(from bittersweet)

1/2 c earth balance
1/4 c sugar
2 c flour
2 TB cornstarch
1/2 tsp dried tarragon (we used a few tsps fresh)
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c oil-cured olives, pitted and chopped
2.5 oz 90% cacao dark chocolate, chopped
2 TB extra-virgin olive oil


Cream together the margarine and sugar, until the mixture is homogenous. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch, tarragon, pepper, and salt, making sure that all of the dry goods are evenly distributed throughout. Add in the chopped olives and chocolate, tossing gently to coat all of the pieces with flour. Break up any clumps of olives that may remain sticking together so that they’re equally blended throughout each finished cookie. Starting the mixer back up on the lowest setting, slowly incorporate the dry goods in two additions, alternating with the olive oil, until all the remaining ingredients are used.

The dough should be just moist enough to stick together in a coherent ball when pressed; don’t be tempted to incorporate extra liquid! Gather it all up and form it into a log about 6 – 8 inches long (note: we had enough dough for several 6-in logs). You can choose to either keep your cookies rounded or square off the edges by gently dropping the log on the counter at regular intervals. It’s merely a stylistic choice, so feel free to play around with it. Once shaped as desired, wrap the dough log in plastic and place it in your freezer. Allow at least 2 hours for it to chill, or store for up to 3 months before baking.

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and line two baking sheets with silpats or pieces of parchment paper.
Unwrap the chilled dough, handling it as little as possible to prevent it from warming up, and use a very sharp knife to cut it into slices approximately 1/4 inch in thickness. Lay the cookies out with about 1/2 inch in between them on your prepared sheets, and bake for 20 – 25 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through, until lightly golden brown.

Let cool completely on the sheets before enjoying or storing in an air-tight container. Makes 18-24 cookies.

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