Friday, May 3, 2013

Hazelnut & Olive Oil Sticks

How cool is it to discover you have a brand new favorite cookie?  I just so happened to see this recipe featured on the ever-industrious Alice Medrich’s blog and right away I knew I had to get to the kitchen and see for myself.  And wow, am I glad I did.  This is an incredibly delicious cookie, the kind of cookie that I will make again and again because of the perfect combination of flavors found in every bite.  It sort of reminds me of a hazelnut sable I used to make at a restaurant only sturdier and made infinitely more interesting and much better with the use of olive oil instead of butter.

The ingredients for this beauty are simple.  The cookie is built around the beautiful flavor of hazelnuts and the complexity of good extra virgin olive oil.  Add the perfect amount of sugar and the saving grace of salt and you have a very elegant super crunchy cookie.  It has a rustic appearance but I wouldn’t hesitate to serve it after a special occasion dinner with a good wine or at a champagne brunch with some fresh fruit of the season, like strawberries, apricots, peaches or figs.  I think you and your guests will find a way to make another batch ASAP.

It sounds like Alice is knee deep in more book projects – how does she do it? – and this cookie is a glorious creation she developed in the midst of a moment of procrastination.  All I can say is, let’s hear it for the way she works!!

So, to sum up – I love the flavor, I love the texture and I love how dangerously easy it is to make this. My new favorite cookie.

Bench notes:
- Alice calls for raw hazelnuts but I used the toasted ones I had on hand.  The nuts should be skinned as much as possible.
- I used the delicious California Olive Ranch Arbequina Extra Virgin Olive Oil in this cookie.  
- It’s easy to shape the cookie dough free form but you can press the dough into a loaf pan lined with parchment and plastic wrap if that is easier for you to do. 
- I found I needed to double the water, so you may also need to follow her instructions to add more if necessary.
- I chilled the cookie dough overnight.  It was very firm and made slicing a breeze.
- I got about 30 cookies because I sliced mine only just slightly thicker.  I really like them this way.  How long you bake them will depend on how thick you slice them.
- Cookies can be stored in an airtight container for several days.

Hazelnut and Olive Oil Sticks
adapted from Alice Medrich
Makes about three dozen 4” to 5” 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
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black or white pepper
6 tablespoons (80 grams) extra virgin olive oil
4 teaspoons cold water [I used 2 T + 2 t]

Place the hazelnuts, flour, sugar, salt, and pepper in the bowl of 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 and holds together when pinched.  It will not look like a smooth dough.  Add extra water if necessary.

Gather the dough on a sheet of plastic wrap and press it very firmly into a rectangle about 4” – 5” x 9” – 10” and 1/2” thick. Square the edges and wrap tightly. Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350F.  

Unwrap the chilled dough and place it on a cutting board. Using a long sharp knife, cut the dough crosswise into 3/8” slices and place on cookie sheets about 1” apart.

Bake 15-18 minutes until cookies are golden brown, rotating baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back half way through the baking time for even baking.  Place the pans on a wire rack to cool.


Stephane in Alaska said...

I saw these, too. They look delectable. :D

pastry studio said...

Stephane, I think they are! Hope you have the chance to enjoy them.

Bryan said...

These are so good.
Love the olive oil here.

Not one to leave anything alone, I did smush a small pinch of orange zest and half a vanilla bean into the sugar.
Good cookie!

pastry studio said...

Hi, Bryan! Aren't they completely addictive?! A perfect balance of simple ingredients.

Anonymous said...

I have to admit, these tasted pretty bland to me, even with very good olive oil and toasted nuts. I think baking in hot oven doesn't do any favor to the flavor of extra virgin olive oil. It definitely needs sth, maybe citrus or spice, but I wouldn't make them again as they are.

Anonymous said...

I made the cookie dough yesterday and just put the shaped cookies in the oven. As I reread the recipe I realize I forgot to add water...ops! I guess I will find out shortly what the results are. Your cookies look beautiful! I have several bags of hazelnuts in my freezer; definitely enough to make again if these fail. Love your blog when I remember to read it! Best, Eileen

pastry studio said...

Hello, Eileen! There are so many incredible blogs out there, it can be very difficult to make the rounds on any given day.

If you were able to form this cookie dough without any water, I'm guessing there was enough moisture there to hold it together. I sure hope your cookies turn out!

Cilia said...

How about changing part of the water for a good brandy, or grappa?
Woudn't that be nice?

pastry studio said...

Cilia, I think your idea is incredibly clever and delicious! Will have to try it the very next time. You're a genius. Cheers!