What to CookCookie

These Cookies Love Olive Oil Almost As Much As We Do

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Cookies can be cakey or crispy, chewy or crumbly, round or square or squirrel. They can be jam-stuffed or caramel-drizzled, buttercream-sandwiched or chocolate-dunked. But most recipes, no matter how different, hinge on the same four ingredients: butter, sugar, salt, flour. This one doesn’t.

I stumbled upon it mid-Insta-scroll—a blur, a backtrack, a crispy, sparkly, uh, cookie?


THESE are the #Portuguese sweet lemon-black olives #cookies. Link in bio.

A post shared by David Leite (@davidleite) on

They are crispy as a cracker—and almost as savory as one, too—rich with olive oil, marbled with torn, oil-cured black olives, fragrant with so much citrus zest. The recipe is from David Leite’s cookbook, The New Portuguese Table. There, he explains more:


“Cookies aren’t exactly a speciality of the Portuguese. The traditional ones tend to be crumbly and plain, more like a dunking biscuit. One day at a dinner party, though, I had a sweet thin cookie with a distinctive snap...I wanted to ratchet up the recipe, adding two iconic Portuguese ingredients to the mix, olives and lemons.”

I wanted to ratchet up the recipe a little more. Instead of lemon, I reached for orange. And I dropped the cinnamon; bring back a pinch if you want, or replace with ground black pepper or red pepper flakes, toasted fennel seeds or minced rosemary.

Whereas most cookies call for room-temperature butter, to be creamed with sugar into marshmallowy fluff, these ask less of you. Whisk together the dry ingredients, drown them in egg-enriched olive oil, stir until a dough forms, done.

Pre-dinner snack? Don't mind if we do!
Pre-dinner snack? Don't mind if we do! Photo by Bobbi Lin

The shaping, admittedly, is trickier. Because the cookies want to be as thin as possible, you roll them with a pin on parchment or a silicone mat, then transfer that to a baking sheet. It sounds fussy—and sort of is—but after one tray, you get the hang of it, and it’s enormously worth it. (Alternatively, you could smush the sugared dough balls with a glass, but they won’t be as thin.) The cookies freeze perfectly, so make a batch, then reap the rewards for weeks.

Leite recommends serving them alongside tea or coffee, or with vanilla ice cream or lemon sorbet. But my favorite pairing is a cheese plate, where you can smear them with something milky and creamy, like Taleggio or burrata or Brie.

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Black Olive Cookies

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Makes 16 cookies
  • 1/4 cup sugar, plus more, for coating
  • 2 tablespoons grated or microplaned orange zest, preferably organic
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup oil-cured black olives, pitted and chopped (about 1/3 cup chopped)
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Go to Recipe

What’s your favorite salty-sweet cookie recipe? Tell us all about it in the comments below!

Automagic Spring Menu Maker!
Automagic Spring Menu Maker!

Tags: Entertaining, Appetizer, Olive Oil