christmas in a cookie

Several years ago, my wife and I visited the Pacific Northwest and Alaska.  While there, I picked up a cookbook that highlighted the area’s desserts. I was very surprised to see how many of them used douglas fir – yes, the Christmas tree – as a flavor.  So apparently it’s edible and can be used like an herb.

Fast forward to this morning where I catch a glimpse of a rosemary and pine nut cookie recipe while stumbling around the web. I start thinking about adding rosemary to my biscotti recipe, but I don’t have any rosemary.  My neighbor has some growing and always tells me to pluck some whenever I want, so I walk out back to grab a few sprigs, passing my Christmas tree on the way out.

I’m immediately reminded of the Pacific Northwest cookbook and scrap the rosemary for some fir tips! To top it all off, I happened to have some pine nuts as well.  Even though they’re from a different species of tree, I might refer to these as Double Pine Biscotti from now on.  If you have a holiday cookie exchange, consider making these as they smell and taste, literally, like Christmas.

Just in case you’re curious, yes, evergreen trees are safe to eat.

  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 cup pine nuts; toasted and cooled
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup douglas fir tips (just the green parts); roughly chopped (you can substitute rosemary if you like)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter; melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  1. Preheat your oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, salt, and baking powder together; add pine nuts and set aside.
  3. In a food processor, grind the sugar and fir tips together until the tips are finely chopped; transfer to a mixing bowl.
  4. Whisk the eggs into the sugar/fir tips mixture until the eggs get pale yellow.
  5. Whisk the melted butter and extracts into the eggs and sugar.
  6. Pour the eggs/butter/sugar into the flour and fold gently until completely combined.Halve dough and turn each portion onto an oiled cookie sheet covered with parchment. Using floured hands, quickly stretch each portion of dough into a rough 13-by-2-inch log, placing them about 3 inches apart on the cookie sheet. Pat each dough shape to smooth it.
  7. Bake until loaves are golden and just beginning to crack on top, about 35 minutes.
  8. Cool the loaves for 10 minutes; lower oven temperature to 325 degrees.
  9. Cut each loaf diagonally into 3/8-inch slices with a serrated knife. Lay the slices about 1/2-inch apart on the cookie sheet, top down, and return them to the oven.
  10. Bake until crisp and golden brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer biscotti to wire rack and cool completely.

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