Kalamata Olive and Cracked Pepper Shortbread

When I had friends from Los Angeles stop by for a couple days, I wanted to make a good impression, down to the last bite. Most of our meals we ate out, but for their last evening I thought that a homemade dinner would be more enjoyable than anything we could get at a restaurant. Exhausted from the week, I wanted to do something simple and easy to throw together.

At lunch, my two friends expressed a lack of interest in goat cheese and brie. Rather than accept their personal taste, I took it as a challenge: they weren’t going to leave my house without enjoying my two favorite cheeses. I had been waiting patiently for the perfect moment to make olive biscuits, and there it was, dropped right into my lap.

These shortbread biscuits are made much in the same way that a dessert sable is. The only difference is the savory flavor as opposed to sweet. As much as these crackers look like and crumble like a good sugar cookie, they are much better eaten with cheese and wine than ice cream and decaff coffee.

You don’t have to be a huge olive fan to enjoy them. More than anything, they’re buttery, with a spicy kick from the cracked pepper. I started out eating them smothered in an herbed goat cheese, but found that they are delicious on their own (or incorporated into a quinoa salad, like I did the next day for lunch).

Kalamata Olive and Cracked Pepper Savory Shortbread
Recipe from Raspberri Cupcakes
Yields about 60 biscuits

1/3 cup well-drained, pitted and finely diced kalamata olives
2 1/2 cups (approx 300g) plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sea salt (plus more for sprinkling on top of biscuits)
3 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
4 tablespoon white sugar
1 large egg yolk

1. Combine flour, baking soda, salt, and pepper in a bowl, and set aside.

2. Beat butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg yolk and beat to combine, scraping sides and bottom of bowl to ensure it mixes evenly. Beat in dry ingredients at a medium-low speed and then fold in chopped olives.

3. Turn out mixture onto a lightly floured surface and pat dough to bring it together. Split into two and roll them into logs, about 4 cm diameter. Wrap well in cling film and refrigerator for at least an hour.*

4. Preheat over to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

5. Take dough out of fridge and unwrap. Use a sharp knife to cut rounds, about half a centimeter thick. Place cut dough on prepared baking sheets, leaving about 1.5 cm space for cookies to expand, and keeping prepared sheets chilled while you cut the remaining dough and bake other trays. Sprinkle sea salt over top of biscuits.
6. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the edges turn golden brown. Leave on the tray for 5 minutes to cool and then gentle transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.**

*You can refrigerate this dough for up to week, or freeze it for up to a month.
**Biscuits can be stored in an airtight container for several days.

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