Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Baking With Olive Oil

I experienced my first olive oil tasting at Morgenster's Olive Celler in the Somerset West region of South Africa and was instantly hooked by the olive oil's clean, fresh flavor. Before I knew what had happened, I had six bottles (two white truffle oil, two extra virgin olive oil, two balsamic vinegar) from Morgenster and an additional four bottles from Tokara's Olive Shed weighing me down. Needless to say, my suitcase had a lot less room and was quite a bit heavier when I finally boarded the plane back to NYC. By some miracle, or possibly just careful baggage handlers, all ten bottles made it back to my apartment intact. I gifted a few of the bottles selfishly keeping the majority for myself. I continuously interchange the oils, drizzling them over pasta and salads, and use them to dunk fresh bread into. I also utilize the white truffle oil to add flavor to mashed potatoes and to dress up homemade mac and cheese.

While looking for ways to broaden the already versatile extra virgin olive oil's usefulness, I decided to turn to baked goods. I combined the clean taste of extra virgin olive oil with the sweetness of almond meal and freshness of orange zest to create a delicious treat bursting with flavor. Below is my recipe for olive oil cookies with an orange-almond flare.

Olive Oil Cookies (yield, approx. 2 dozen)
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup almond meal/flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 large eggs
2 tbsp orange zest
1 tsp vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine flours, baking powder, salt and set aside.
3. Beat sugar, extra virgin olive oil, eggs, orange zest and vanilla extract with an electric mixer until combined.
4. Mix in dry ingredients and beat until combined. (Note-the almond meal will cause the dough to become sticky.)
5. Drop rounded tablespoons of the dough onto ungreased cookie sheets.
6. Bake approx. 15 min. or until edges are golden brown.

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