Olive Oil-Fennel Seed Shortbread & Almond-Tahini Cookies

There are a lot of talented chefs at Sun Basket, but not all of them work in our kitchen. Brittany Howlett, who serves as a liaison between our test kitchen and the purchasing and operations team, was a professional baker for many years before she came to Sun Basket. She’s also co-chair for the Confections category of the Good Food Awards. So when Brittany decided to give up the recipes for her two favorite cookies, we wanted to be sure that you have a chance to enjoy them, too. It’s not easy to make a cookie that’s both healthy and delicious, but Brittany has cracked the code with her almond-tahini cookies. These gluten-free treats are also dairy free and made with honey rather than refined sugar. Enjoy her sweet and savory olive oil-fennel seed shortbread with a glass of wine. 

Olive Oil–Fennel Seed Shortbread
Makes about 2 dozen shortbread cookies
Serves 24

2 lemons, preferably Meyer
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¾ cup sugar
2½ tablespoons fennel seeds
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing
1 teaspoon Maldon sea salt, optional

1 medium bowl, 1 large bowl, fine-toothed grater, food processor, large baking dish (9 by 13 inches)

1 Make the shortbread dough
Heat the oven to 325ºF and set a rack in the center of the oven.
Zest the lemons.
Working over a large bowl, sift the flour and salt. 
Add the sugar and fennel seeds to the bowl of a food processor. Process until the fennel seeds are finely ground, 1 to 2 minutes.
Add the fennel sugar and the lemon zest to the dry ingredients and stir to combine. Make a well in the center and pour in the 1 cup olive oil. Stir until a dough forms. 

2 Form the shortbread
Lightly oil the baking dish and line the bottom with parchment paper.

Transfer the dough to the prepared baking dish. Using your fingers or a spatula, press the dough evenly into the dish and smooth the top. Using a fork, pierce the dough all over. If using, crush the Maldon sea salt between your fingers to sprinkle them evenly on top.

3 Bake the shortbread
Bake on the center rack, rotating the baking dish once halfway through, until cooked through and golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes. Using a paring knife, cut the shortbread lengthwise into 1-inch-thick slices, then diagonally from one corner to another to form diamond-shaped cookies. Let cool completely. 

4 Serve
Gently remove each cookie from the baking dish and transfer to a serving plate, or store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Nutrition per serving (1 cookie): Calories: 160, Protein: 1g (2% DV), Fiber: 1g (4% DV), Total Fat: 10g (15% DV), Monounsaturated Fat: 8g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Saturated Fat: 1g (5% DV), Cholesterol: 0mg (0% DV), Sodium: 180mg (8% DV), Carbohydrates: 15g (5% DV), Total Sugars: 7g, Added Sugars: 6g (12% DV). Not a significant source of trans fat.

Almond-Tahini Cookies
Makes about 2 dozen cookies
Serves 12

1½ cups almond meal
½ teaspoon baking soda
⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ cup honey
⅓ cup plus 1 tablespoon tahini
1 vanilla bean pod or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon Maldon sea salt flakes, optional

1 small bowl, 1 medium bowl, standing mixer, optional, 2 sheet pans

1 Make the cookie dough
Heat the oven to 350ºF. Set 2 oven racks in the middle and upper thirds of the oven.
In a medium bowl or the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on low speed, stir together the almond meal, baking soda, and kosher salt. 
In a small bowl, using a fork, stir together the honey and tahini. Using a paring knife, cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the honey mixture (or stir in the vanilla extract). Stir to combine.
Pour the honey mixture into the dry ingredients and blend to form a smooth dough.

2 Shape the cookies
LIghtly oil 2 sheet pans or line them with parchment paper.

Measure out 1 level tablespoon of dough. Using your hands, roll the dough into 1-inch balls. Transfer the balls to the prepared sheet pan, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Use the palm of your hand or the bottom of a drinking glass to flatten each ball to a ¼-inch-thick round. Crush the Maldon sea salt flakes between your fingers to sprinkle them evenly top of each round. 

3 Bake the cookies
Transfer the sheet pans to the oven and bake, rotating the pans once halfway through, until golden brown and firm around the edges, 8 to 9 minutes. Remove the pans from the oven and let the cookies on the pans for 5 minutes

4 Serve
Transfer the cookies to a serving plate and serve warm, or let cool and store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Nutrition per serving (2 cookies): Calories: 140, Protein: 4g (8% DV), Fiber: 2g (8% DV), Total Fat: 11g (17% DV), Monounsaturated Fat: 1.5g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.5g, Saturated Fat: 1g (5% DV), Cholesterol: 0mg (0% DV), Sodium: 290mg (12% DV), Carbohydrates: 10g (3% DV), Total Sugars: 6g, Added Sugars: 6g (12% DV). Not a significant source of trans fat.

Bonus recipes—ingredients not included in box.