Monday, December 12, 2011

Olive Oil Shortbread Cookies

The New York Times Dining Section ran two great pieces last week: one, a list of the Best Cookbooks of the Year, and another about the most noticeable trend, the “At Home” style of cookbook.  Julia Moskin’s piece, “What Happens When Chefs Come Home,” underscores a crucial shift in cookbook consumers: people want recipes of stuff they can actually cook. Glossy studio shots of the unattainable sphere are out; hamburgers and Caesar salad are in. 

In her “When Chefs Come Home” piece, Moskin mentions a recipe for Shortbread Biscuits that wisely substitutes olive oil for butter. Still high on my October visit to Tuscany for olive oil crush at Villa Campestri, I thought I have to try this. I found a recipe for olive oil shortbread and then considered my oil choice.

Though vegetal and grassy, the bright green Villa Campestri oil could add an interesting twist to the butter bomb that traditional shortbread can be. Or I could end up with a bitter, greenish biscuit. 

Only one way to find out...

The verdict? Moskin is right: olive oil greatly improves this classic cookie. I could easily see the Villa Campestri restaurant serving them with afternoon tea on the terrace.

Olive oil adds a luxurious yet subtle flavor boost.
Admittedly, these cookies aren’t quite as crumbly as traditional shortbread, but they trade texture for a rich, more nuanced flavor. There’s simply more going on than the average shortbread cookie. I don’t get palate fatigue from butter overload, which is a fancy way of saying “I eat them five at a time.”  

These cookies are also comparatively more healthful since we've lost the saturated fat of butter.

I’m excited to have found yet another recipe that is improved with the addition of quality olive oil. Maybe these cookies will be left by the Christmas tree this year... 

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