Cookery Maven Blog

Salty, Sweet and Savory Shortbread Crackers

I have a thing for preserved lemons (recipe here) and oil-cured olives -- when I find a recipe that includes both of them, I'm a happy camper. I'm also a big fan of savory shortbread crackers: they are the perfect cocktail food, they can be made ahead of time and baked right before you need them, and they are well-suited to a variety of flavors: gorgonzola, cheddar, feta, a variety of herbs, and in the case of these crackers -- olives and preserved lemon.  

I have quite a collection of cookbooks and Dorie Greenspan's, Around My French Table, is dog-eared and stained (good indicators of a well-loved cookbook) but the first time I made these, I was skeptical. Grated egg yolk? Powdered sugar? And oil-cured olives?? It seemed a little strange but since shortbread crackers are a staple in my kitchen and I happened to have potato starch in the cupboard, I decided to give it a whirl. Boy, am I glad I did -- these are lovely sweet and salty crackers with a delicate texture that makes it mighty tough to have just one (or two, or seven). The dough freezes beautifully, well-wrapped, for up to two's always good to have a secret cocktail weapon on hand when you need a little something to accompany your wine! 

Olive and Preserved Lemon Shortbread Crackers
(adapted from Dorie Greenspan's, Around My French Table)

1 large hard-boiled egg yolk, white discarded
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons potato starch
15 tablespoons (1 stick plus 7 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup olive oil (a fruity oil is best)
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/2 cup pitted black olives, preferably oil-cured, chopped
1/4 cup preserved lemon, rinsed and chopped (rind only)
Maldon sea salt, for sprinkling

Grate the hard-boiled egg onto a piece of wax paper. Put the flour and potato starch in a strainer set over a large bowl and sift into the bowl; whisk to thoroughly blend.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until it’s soft and creamy. Beat in the olive oil, followed by the grated yolk. Blend in the confectioners’ sugar, reduce the speed to low and add the dry ingredients. Mix until the dough just comes together and then stir in the chopped olives and preserved lemon. You’ll have a soft, pliable dough. 

Turn the dough out onto a work surface, divide it into thirds, and shape each piece into a log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill for several hours or, better yet, overnight. If you’re in a hurry, you can freeze the logs for an hour or so.

When you’re ready to bake the crackers, center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.

Working with 1 log at a time, slice the cookies 1/4 inch thick and arrange them on the baking sheet, and sprinkle with Maldon sea salt.

Bake the sablés for 15 to 18 minutes, rotating the baking sheet at the midway mark, or until the cookies are firm, but not colored. They may turn golden around the edges, but you don’t want them to brown. Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool, and repeat with the remaining logs of dough, making sure to use a cool baking sheet each time. 

Makes about 60 cookies.