Happy Chanukah! We’re in the first of eight days (and nights) of celebration, presents, and food.
Note for the SEO gods: I mean the holiday with a transliterated name that has at least 13 spellings in English, including Chanuka; Chanukah; Channukkah; Channukah; Hanukah; Hannukah; Hanukkah; Hanuka; Hanukka; Hanaka; Haneka; Hanika; and even Khanukkah.
Chanukah is a minor Jewish holiday. Its proximity to Christmas, though, makes it a “must celebrate” tradition for Jewish families living in cultures where Christmas is all around at this time of year. And I do love Chanukah, no matter how religiously insignificant it is.
The holiday celebrates the Maccabees, a band of feisty Jews in ancient times. It commemorates their military victory over oppressors who had mistreated them and defiled their temple. Chanukah also celebrates a miracle that supposedly happened after that victory. When the Maccabees went back into the temple they relit the extinguished eternal light. However they only had one day’s worth of oil. Miraculously, their one-day supply lasted for eight days. Today we celebrate by lighting a menorah or eight-branched candlestick and reciting blessings for eight nights.
As with every Jewish holiday, food is at the center. The traditional ingredient symbolizing Chanukah is oil, in recognition of the oil used to light the eternal light. While latkes, doughnuts, and other deep-fried foods are the ones most commonly associated with the holiday, these Chanukah Olive Oil Cookies do the job without all the mess.
This post is part of a food blogging event called (ironically in my case) “Christmas Week.” I will celebrate the holiday season with four sweet recipes this week, including another Chanukah cookie – with Gelt! Details about Christmas Week, including a huge giveaway, follow the recipe for Chanukah Olive Oil Cookies.
Be sure to enter the Christmas Week Giveaway for one of three Amazon Gift Cards for $500, $250, and $50! Details at the end of this post.
These cookies are non-dairy or pareve and not too sweet. My friend Bob had what he called a “moment of hesitation” when I offered him one. He said, “It looked like too much of a health food cookie.” Then he tasted it. As he finished the cookie, Bob announced that its looks were deceiving.
I had to laugh. I’d never thought of these Chanukah Olive Oil Cookies as health food. Far from it. To me, they are reminiscent of biscotti, except in a different shape.
These cookies, studded with pistachios and chocolate, are simple to make. After mixing the dry ingredients in one bowl and the liquids in another, you combine them, create a log, chill it and cut the cookies. The optional step of rolling the log in more pistachios and chocolate is either gilding the lily or a perfect final step, depending on your perspective. I always opt for more. Enough said.
In any event, they are scrumptious and a perfect cookie for dunking in coffee, tea or hot chocolate.
- 1 cup roasted pistachio meats (5 ounces)
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons all purpose flour (5 ounces)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 cup ounce finely chopped bittersweet chocolate (1 ounce)
- 2 pinches kosher or fine sea salt
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil + a bit extra for brushing on before the optional coating
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup sugar
- Optional outside coating for the cookie roll: 1/4 cup roasted pistachios and 1/4 cup semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate finely chopped or mini chips
- Grind the pistachios in a food processor to a medium-fine, pebbly consistency. Combine the ground pistachio meats, flour, baking powder, chopped chocolate and salt in a small bowl and mix them thoroughly with a large fork.
- In a larger bowl, combine the olive oil, egg, vanilla and sugar. Mix them to combine.
- Add the dry ingredients to the liquid ones, and mix with a large fork until well combined. The mixture will be like pebbly sand.
- Press it into a lump and put it on a piece of parchment paper. Using the parchment to help roll the dough, make it into a log 12 inches long.
- If using the optional outside coating, brush the extra oil over the log and roll it in the pistachio and chocolate mixture. Press that mixture into the roll slightly, to hold it in place, and roll the parchment paper over the log. Don't be afraid to use your hand to roll the log or to press in the coating, which doesn't stick unless you apply pressure by rolling it.
- Chill the log in the freezer for about one hour. It should be firm to the touch, and well chilled.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- With a sharp knife, cut the chilled log into 1/2 inch thick pieces (24 total) and lay them out on 2 rimmed cookie sheets lined with parchment or silicone. It's easiest if you cut the log in half, then cut each half into half again, followed by cutting each of those quarters into thirds. The cookies will not be perfectly shaped, but you can press them back into roundish shapes if they get too odd-looking after you slice them.
- Bake the cookies for about 13-15 minutes, rotating the pans from front-to-back and switching their places on the oven racks about halfway through to promote even baking. As they bake, the cookies will rise slightly, but if they were well chilled, they should not spread out much.
- Remove the cookies to wire racks and cool them thoroughly before serving.
- The best olive oil to use for these cookies is one that is on the sweet, rather than peppery, side. Sometimes the label will describe the oil's features (similar to the label on some wine bottles.) Otherwise smell and taste it.
- I use Trader Joe's dry roasted and unsalted pistachios. For an even more roasted flavor, I roast them for an additional 5 minutes at 325 degrees F. before chopping them in the food processor. That step is totally optional. It just deepens and enhances the roasted flavor.
- Prep time does not include freezing the cookie mixture.
- Finely chopped chocolate works much better than mini chips for the coating because the chips make it somewhat difficult to cut the log into slices.
- I use a ruler to make sure the log is about 12 inches long, but you can estimate if you prefer. The exact length is not crucial, as long as the slices once cut are each about 1/2 inch thick.
Participants for Christmas Week:
Recipes from Day 1 of Christmas Week! Please visit all our talented participants:
Pistachio Brittle from Cravings of a Lunatic
Coconut Lemon Raspberry Bundt Cake from Desserts Required
Peppermint Bark from Poet in the Pantry
Eggnog Pound Cake from The Redhead Baker
Quince, Cranberry and Persimmon Crisps from Pineapple and Coconut
Chocolate Fruit ‘n Nut Bites from All Roads Lead to the Kitchen
Fancy Chocolate Covered Marshallows from Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks
Gluten Free Cranberry Orange Coffee Cake from Cupcakes and Kale Chips
Marzipan Fruits from The Little Ferraro Kitchen
Eggnog Truffles from Crumb: A Food Blog
Peppermint Fudge from The Bitter Side of Sweet
Dark Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes from Amee’s Savory Dish
Gingerbread Cake with Orange Cream Glaze from Comfortably Domestic
Christmas Sweets and Treats from Food Done Light
Spiked Hot Cocoa Gift Mix from Farm Fresh Feasts
Chanukah Olive Oil Cookies from Mother Would Know
Coconut Pralines from Food Lust People Love
Blueberry Overnight Sweet Rolls from My Catholic Kitchen
Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies from Daily Appetite
Chocolate Dipped Gingersnaps from Try Anything Once Culinary
Mini Red Velvet Cupcakes from That Skinny Chick Can Bake
Dark Chocolate Almond Cheesecake Cups from Savory Experiments
Bourbon Soaked Eggnog Cake from Cooking In Stilettos
Ginger Snap Cocktail from Food Babbles
Coquito Cinnamon Roll Bundt from Mind Over Batter
No-Bake Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake from Rants From My Crazy Kitchen
Easy White Chocolate Peppermint Fudge from Big Bear’s Wife
Easy Cream Cheese Cookies from Everyday Southwest
Gingerbread Cookie Bars from From Gate to Plate
Molasses Ginger Cookies from Karen’s Kitchen Stories
Apricot Spice Biscotti from Savoring Italy
Christmas Week Amazon Gift Card Giveaway is open to U.S. and Canada. Giveaway will run from December 7, 2015 to December 26, 2015. Winners must be 18 years of age. Winners will be notified by email. Winners will be asked a skill testing question.