Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Olive Oil Shortbread with Salted Chocolate

I love olive oil more than just about anything else in this world. It's just one of those things that makes all the annoying parts of life recede. I pour it in ribbons across the top of fruit crumbles, and I love to eat it plain with crusty bread, sea salt, and cracked black pepper. Even the most basic olive oil is always pretty good; we go through lots of 33-ounce bottles of $6 extra-virgin olive oil around here.
So I've made herb-infused olive oil, and I like an olive oil pie crust, but I wanted to try in a more upfront way in a dessert. Surprisingly, I had a really hard time finding a recipe for olive oil cookies. It was even tougher to dig up anything about olive oil shortbread. When I have an idea like this but wonder if I'm crazy to try to see it through, I just do a lot of research on the basics and take a stab at figuring out my own recipe. Here are a few things I learned.

Apparently, shortbread is all about getting the proper ratio of butter to flour to sugar. 4:2:1 was a ratio that I saw often, but for this recipe, I went for 1:3:1. I have also heard that using either rice flour or corn starch offers a good crumb. Keeping the dough cold before baking it was a good tip; I am impatient and utilized the freezer for a shorter chill.

The dough tasted like pure marzipan, so that alone seemed promising. The cookies had a slight savory quality from the olive oil, and that rocked. But what put them over the top was dipping the edges in dark chocolate ganache and sprinkling them with a little Maldon salt.

Olive Oil Shortbread

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup olive oil (plus a tbsp. or two if needed)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
2 tablespoon unsalted butter (cold and cubed small)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine olive oil and sugar well in the stand mixture. Stop and add vanilla paste and salt. Add butter, too, and then mix. Switch over to a low speed and add in the AP flour and whole wheat flour. You may need to add a tbsp. or two of olive oil if mixture is too crumbly. Add a bit of oil at a time while mixer remains on low until the dough comes together. Wrap dough in wax paper and set it in the freezer for 30 minutes to chill.

Roll out the dough into 3/4-inch thickness and cut into rectangles. Poke holes into the top of each piece with a fork. Freeze for another 30 min. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until golden. They are best when cool -- or even a day or two or three later.


1/3 cup dark chocolate
1 tablespoon milk
Maldon salt

For an easy ganache, combine dark chocolate and milk and microwave for 30 seconds. Whisk it together. Dip the the edges of the shortbread in the ganache after they cool and sprinkle with salt...if you like that kind of thing.


  1. My notes:

    Well I think I may have screwed something up b/c the cookie texture was not too good. Had a weird texture to it. So, I put the cookies in a container and will keep them in the fridge for a couple days and then see what they are like then. In the meantime, here are some notes:

    * We already know that my dough was too wet. Adding the step for putting flour on top helped.
    * I used salted butter, that's the only butter I had.
    * Preheating of oven instruction should come during the freezing the dough the second time so oven isn't on that long.
    * I'm guessing normal people, like me, won't have vanilla paste or maldon salt, so you may want to add alternative. I used vanilla extract and pink salt
    * You may want to say how much 1/3 cup chocolate is in case you have to buy in bars like I did. I used one all natural 3 oz (85g) bar of extreme dark chocolate 88% cocoa. It ended up being too thick and I had to add more milk (I used soy milk)
    * What's the purpose of fork holes? For dipping in ganache later or to cook through dough better?

    I think all in all I may have just messed this up and will do it over in a couple days. Boo :(

  2. Oh nO!!!! I'm sorry you had trouble with it. They definitely have that crumbly shortbread texture. Hmmm. Don't worry about making it again. If you had that much trouble, then we need to take another look at it.

  3. I made this today-it came out perfectly.

    Seriously. Four of my favourite things in one recipe, how can I resist?

    Anyways, I agree with the other comment-er on the vanilla paste(I used bourbon vanilla extract) and the oven preheating instructions. I do have maldon salt, but I am a salt whore, so that may not be representative of all people.

    As dough, it was pretty much the same as regular shortbread. The cookies were definetely not done at 10 minutes. Perfectly done at 14, though, but that may just be my oven. My ganache was also too thick, I ended up using close to 3 tbsp of milk.

    The cookies, however, are divine. Perfect crisp crumbly shortbread texture, and a wonderful subtlety from the olive oil. When I'm out of the shortbread cookies I want to use this dough recipe for pecan sandies-I bet that would be spectacular!

  4. oh, one other note-You may be a bit vague on the texture of the dough when you say "add more oil if it's too crumbly" I think maybe if someone doesn't know that shortbread dough is going to be frustratingly crumbly, they might end up with a dough that's too oily.