Pine nuts and fennel seed aren’t necessarily ingredients you expect to find in
cookies—really, they sound much more like they’re going into a pesto—but
they’re the secret flavors in this buttery, flaky shortbread dough that will melt in
your mouth. Ground fennel seed isn’t as easy to find as the whole seeds, so
buy them whole and grind them at home in a mortar and pestle or coffee/spice
grinder. I like to make this dough ahead of time and freeze it, then bake it off as needed.
Pine Nut Cookies
- 1/2 cup 1 stick unsalted butter, at room
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon ground fennel seed
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar, vanilla, ground fennel seed, and salt with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg. Add the flour and mix just until blended.
- Transfer the dough to a sheet of plastic wrap and shape into an 8-inch-long log. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for 2 hours. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 heavy, large baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Cut the dough log crosswise into 1/8- to 1/4- inch-thick slices. Transfer the cookies to the prepared baking sheets, spacing evenly apart. Press the pine nuts decoratively atop the cookies, and bake until the cookies are golden around the edges, about 15 minutes. (The cookies can be made 1 day ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.)