Welcome back to Cookie Monday! Enjoy this week’s installment:
If I were a Sicilian grandmother, this is probably the sort of cookie that I would make in my rustic kitchen while sipping a glass of Chianti. However, I’m not a Sicilian grandmother, I’m just a high school student that thinks up cookie recipes during the school day, and then bakes cookies from recipes scrawled in the margins of my calculus notes. This particular batch of cookies I was particularly pleased with, from the crisp edges to the rich interior with the roasted undertones of fresh pine nuts. A few teaspoons of orange zest brighten up the finished cookies and give the kitchen a wonderful scent that permeates the air while the cookies bake.
I was a little apprehensive about how the cookies would taste, especially given that the combination of semolina, orange, and pine nuts is one more commonly seen in pasta dishes with a dusting of parmesan cheese, but they are a wonderful change from plain sugar cookies. After just one bite of these, Aidan requested that I “make them again soon,” which is not something that he says every day. The next time you see a bag of pine nuts sitting around in your pantry, don’t think pesto, think cookies.
Semolina Pine Nut Cookies with Orange Zest
Makes about 3 dozen cookies (2-3 inches in diameter)
½ cup raw pine nuts
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 ½ cups granulated sugar, plus 1/3 cup for coating
½ teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons orange zest
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup semolina flour (also known as durum wheat flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon table salt
- Preheat the oven to 350 and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Place the pine nuts on one of the baking sheets and toast in the preheated oven for 5-6 minutes, until fragrant and golden brown. Chop finely, and set aside.
- In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and 1 ½ cups sugar on medium speed until fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add the egg, vanilla, and orange zest and beat on medium until well combined. Scrape down the bowl, then add the flour, semolina flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, then mix on low speed until almost combined. Add the pine nuts and mix on low until evenly distributed. Scoop heaping tablespoons of the dough into balls, then roll in the remaining 1/3 cup sugar. Place 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets, then bake for 10-12 minutes, until the cookies have spread and the edges are just beginning to turn golden brown. Let cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.