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Olio Nuovo and Lemon Cookies

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OliveOilCookiesA cookie recipe that calls for no butter or vegetable shortening?

This one uses olive oil, specifically new olive oil. While you might not be able to get brand new, freshly cold-pressed olive oil, extra-virgin cold-pressed will work.

The cookies are reminiscent of Mexican Wedding Cookies or Russian Tea Cakes, and were created by owners of the McEvoy Ranch in Northern California. The ranch produces organic olive oil. The recipe was published in “The Olive Harvest Cookbook,” (Chronicle Books, $35) by Gerald Gass and Jacqueline Mallorca.

I made a couple of slight adaptations to the printed recipe. I added salt—I think cookies taste better with just a pinch or so of salt to put a little edge on all that sugar. Also, I added a small amount of sugar for sprinkling on the cookies before baking.

We kept these cookies in a covered container for the few days it took to consume them, and they seemed to taste better every day. You can taste the olive oil in the cookies, but it is a subtle, nicely balanced flavor.

Olio Nuovo and Lemon Cookies

2 cups unbleached flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup olio nuovo (fresh-pressed new olive oil) OR extra virgin cold pressed olive oil
1/8 teaspoon pure lemon oil, such as Boyajian bran
4 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with baking parchment or silicone baking sheets.

Sift together the flour, sugar, salt and baking soda into medium-sized bowl. In another small bowl, stir together the olive oil, lemon oil, lemon zest and lemon juice. Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, then stir until mixture comes together in a uniform mass. Using your hands, roll dough into balls 1-inch in diameter.  Sprinkle on a little sugar and roll the cookie balls gently in your hands to distribute it. You don’t want a heavily coated cookie, just enough sugar to give them a little sparkle. Place them on the prepared baking sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart.

Bake cookies 1 sheet at a time until they are just cooked through, the bottoms lightly browned, between 12-15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let them cool completely. Pack them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Makes about 18 cookies.

Adapted from “The Olive Harvest Cookbook”

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