This is the time of year when it's nice to have an ultra-quick, ultra-easy cookie recipe on hand to offer last-minute guests. Here's my latest favorite: A shortbread that consists of hazelnuts, olive oil, and a touch of lemon — and very little else. You can mix these cookies up in less than 5 minutes, and they bake off in a flash. They taste delicious too: Sweet, nutty, savory from the oil, and salty on the finish.
I am really enamored of baking with olive oil; I think that the flavor of olive oil can add something really special to baked goods where you might not expect it. I even made an olive oil cake for my wedding!
But I had never tried a shortbread with olive oil, and given that butter is such an important element of traditional shortbread, I was unsure whether it would work. But I wanted to try a new challenge for a little project with Bob's Red Mill and California Olive Ranch, who teamed up to promote baking with olive oil. I was happy to jump in, since I have a special fondness for baked goods with olive oil.
Lucky for me, these cookies turned out amazingly well. They aren't much to look at — crumbly and brown — but they have warm, nutty flavor, and a deliciously crisp, sturdy, and toasty texture. I drizzled a little lemon glaze over top, too, which complemented that toasted nut flavor beautifully. Two of these, and a cup of tea, and afternoon snack time is perfectly arranged.
Hazelnut & Olive Oil Shortbread
makes 18 to 24 small cookie slices
1 1/4 cup hazelnut meal
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup powdered sugar, plus 1/4 cup for glaze
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup extra-virgin light olive oil
Heat the oven to 375°F. Whisk together the hazelnut meal, flour granulated sugar, 1/4 cup powdered sugar, salt and lemon zest. Whisk in the vanilla and olive oil. The dough will be sandy and quite crumbly.
Press the dough firmly into a 8x8-inch (or 9x9-inch) dish. Bake for 20 minutes or until just lightly browned around the edges. Immediately cut the shortbread into diamonds or squares. Let cool completely before lifting them out of the pan, however.
Meanwhile, whisk together 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice and the remaining 1/4 cup powdered sugar and drizzle over the warm cookies.