I have always been intrigued by sweet/savoury combinations as the one in this unusual, but pleasant recipe of pungent black olives in a buttery shortbread. Recently while browsing through my local Middle Eastern grocers, I got a taste of some Moroccan cured black olives that had been packed in oil. These wrinkly looking, intensely dark olives pack a salty punch, are deep and earthy tasting with hints of smoked black cherries, and finish on a somewhat bitter note. As with most cookie dough preparation, I try to be cautious about over mixing the dough and prefer to incorporate the olives folding them in by hand. This ensures the lightest of textures, and the olives don't get crushed but stand out through the pale dough like little gems. The baking process develops the flavours even more, and lends a nice crisp texture to the eventually honey coloured shortbread. I have found that the best way to enjoy these is alongside a warm, steaming cup of Moroccan mint tea.
MAKES TWO DOZEN COOKIES
8 oz. unsalted butter at room temperature
½ cup powdered sugar
¼ tsp. kosher salt
2 cups flour
¼ cup black olives, chopped
1. Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat on low speed until smooth, 1-2 minutes. Add the powdered sugar and salt, and mix until well combined. Scrape down sides of bowl and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 4-5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of bowl and add the flour. Beat on low speed just until the dough comes together, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of bowl, add the chopped black olives, and fold in using a rubber spatula.
2. Wrap the dough in plastic and flatten into a 1/2" thick square. Chill thoroughly for at least 2 hours.
3. Preheat oven to 350°. Cut dough into 1x1" rectangles. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and place the cookies at least 1 inch apart. Lightly brush each cookie with olive oil and chill the cookie trays for another 30 minutes. Place the sheets in the oven and bake until the cookie is slightly browned, about 10-12 minutes, rotate the pan midway through baking time. Let cool at least 10 minutes on the pan before enjoying.
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