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Portuguese Sweet Lemon and Black Olive Cookies

Cookies aren’t exactly a specialty of the Portuguese. Traditionally they tend to be crumbly and plain, more like dunking biscuits. One day at a dinner party, though, I had a sweet, thin cookie with a distinctive snap. I immediately made copious notes in my ever-present little black book, nibbling one cookie after the next to discern their various traits. The only thing is, I never asked the hostess for the recipe. I spent months trying to come up with a cookie that matched hers, and finally I think I’ve done her proud. But I ratcheted up the recipe, adding two iconic Portuguese flavors to the mix: olive and lemon. Serve these cookies alone, as a lovely accompaniment to tea, or, my favorite, as a crunchy bite alongside a scoop of vanilla ice cream or lemon sorbet.–David Leite

LC A Conversation-Starting Cookie Note

We think these conversation-starting cookies defy the laws of physics. We think you’ll agree when you experience what big flavors they flaunt for something so thin.

Portuguese Sweet Lemon and Black Olive Cookie Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 20 M
  • 50 M
  • Makes about 15 wafers

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup oil-cured black olives, rinsed quickly if particularly salty, pitted, and coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup sugar, plus more for coating
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest, , preferably organic
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large egg, beaten

Directions

  • 1. Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and crank up the heat to 375°F (190°C). Cut 3 pieces of parchment paper cut to fit your baking sheet.
  • 2. Stir together the flour, olives, sugar, baking powder, lemon zest, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk together the oil and egg, pour the mixture into the dry ingredients, and mix with your hands until the dough no longer looks dry and holds together when squeezed, 1 to 2 minutes.
  • 3. Fill a small bowl with sugar and set nearby. Pinch off 1 rounded tablespoon (about 1 ounce) of dough, roll it into a ball, and coat it well with sugar. Place the parchment paper on your work surface and place the dough ball near one corner of the parchment. Place another piece of parchment on top and, using a rolling pin, roll the ball into a 3 1/2- to 4-inch circle that’s a scant 1/16 inch thick. The edges of the cookie will be ragged; that’s how it should be. Repeat with 4 or 5 more wafers on the same sheet. Lift off the top sheet of parchment and slip the parchment with the cookies onto the baking sheet.
  • 4. Bake until the lemon-olive cookies are edged with brown and pebbled on top, 10 to 12 minutes. Slide the parchment onto a wire cooling rack. Repeat with the remaining dough, using a new piece of parchment for each. Once cooled, the cookies will keep in an airtight container for several days, but I doubt they’ll stick around that long.
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