When we think of Christmas sweets, cakes and cookies, we immediately think of making a shopping list that includes refined sugar and butter. And, although Christmas is an extraordinary season when we should not count calories, we can always think of healthier alternatives that allow us to eat sweets and desserts without feeling guilty and altering our health.
For example, by switching over butter to extra virgin olive oil, and sugar to dates, brown sugar, panela or coconut sugar, we are already taking a big step to make the dessert a much healthier preparation.
And if there is a Mediterranean community where, for example, the use of extra virgin olive oil has been ingrained for decades, that’s Andalusia. Practically all the gastronomic elaborations that are made in the region use this oil as a source of fat, including many of its traditional desserts.
In fact, there is one that catches our attention because it’s a typically festive recipe: olive oil cookies. These ones are a simple recipe that is highly aromatic, delicious and traditional at the same time. And at Treurer we have given it a twist to make this sweet preparation healthier for you.
Ingredients for making olive oil cookies
75 ml of extra virgin olive oil (Arbequina variety recommended)
1 tablespoon of anise beans
240 g whole wheat flour
80g brown sugar (plus 5g extra for dusting)
Zest of ¼ lemon
1 & ½ tsp dry baker’s yeast
¼ tsp salt
75 ml of water
1 Tbsp of anise liqueur (optional)
Process of making oil cakes
Start by adding the extra virgin olive oil to a frying pan. When it begins to heat up, add the anise beans and, when they begin to flavour and sizzle, remove the pan from the heat and let it cool.
While the flavoured oil cools, add the lemon zest to infuse. Then incorporate the dry ingredients (flour, brown sugar, yeast and salt) in a deep bowl and, once the oil is cold, add it together with the water and the anise liqueur.
Knead first with a spoon – and then with your hands- all the ingredients until you get a homogeneous dough. Cover the bowl with a cloth and let it sit at room temperature until it doubles in volume.
Once the time has passed and the dough has risen, you have to knead it again. At this point, you can divide it into more or less equal portions, about 15 should come out, and give them a fine, rounded shape with the rolling pin.
PRO TIP! Besides the fact it’s not the traditional way, in order to give the cookies a more festive touch and encourage the little ones to participate, you can also spread the dough with a rolling pin on a smooth surface and use Christmassy cookie moulds to shape them.
Whichever option you choose, make sure the cookies are thin when you put them on a baking sheet as the result should be crunchy. They’re not going to spread out either, so you won’t have to leave too much space between them.
At this point you can sprinkle sugar (and even cinnamon that goes well with anise) over each of the cookies for a spectacular caramelized effect when they come out of the oven.
Once this step is done (which as we said is optional) you can place the tray in the preheated oven at 220ºC for about 7 minutes. The idea is that they are roasted and take a golden colour.
After this time, you must remove the tray from the oven and wait (although we know it’s difficult) for them to cool to eat, since they must continue to cook with the residual heat.
If your diners don’t finish them, you can store them in an airtight container and keep them in the least humid place in the kitchen, since humidity is a great enemy of these cookies, as it is of extra virgin olive oil.