One of my favourite things about the holidays in the excuse to make treats. I love shortbread, and when I learned many years ago that you could make my favourite cookies using coniferous trees I was so excited. These White Pine Shortbread are easy to make and something unique for your holiday cookie exchange and celebrations.
You can use the green needles of any native conifer tree expect for Yew. In Ontario, I personally love using White Pine as they needles are soft and easy to prepare, they have a mild flavour and are very abundant. You can also use our Spruce Tip Sugar in this recipe.
White Pine Shortbread Cookies
Makes about 4 dozen cookies
1/2 cup fresh fine chopped White Pine needles
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons orange zest
Pinch of salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
Finely chop the evergreen needles/tips using a food processor, coffee or spice grinder (You can also use a knife but be sure to chop very finely.) The mixture may be a bit sticky and fibrous. Remove any large fibres or stray, whole needles.
In a large bowl, combine the evergreen needles/tips, butter, sugar, orange zest, and salt. Mix with a wooden spoon until creamy.
Gradually add the flour, mixing thoroughly after each addition to form a buttery ball of dough. You can mix with a wooden spoon, your fingers, or both
Divide the dough between 2 large sheets of parchment paper. Using the paper as an aid, roll each piece of dough into a 1.5-inch diameter log. Wrap in plastic and freeze for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°F.
Unwrap the dough and cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Depending on the conifer you used and the grinding method, you may see little fibres sticking out the edges of the cookies. These are harmless and fine to eat, but for prettier cookies, you can take the time to pick them out or smooth them down before baking.
To bake, place the cookies 1 inch apart on parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Bake until the edges are golden brown, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.