February 24, 2009

I've thanked my lucky stars many a time since Abraço wheeled into town. While they use different beans than oft-missed (yet thankfully oft-supplied) Blue Bottle, Jamie makes as masterful a cup of coffee as I've had the joy to shotgun in New York.

Aside from the impeccably-prepared caffeine injections, Abraço boasts a number of tasty goods. Though the pain perdu comes in at a very close second, my favorite of the lot is the black olive shortbread. Upon inquiring after the recipe I was politely declined but left with the helpful (and also self-evident if my brain hadn't been blitzed by deliciousness) suggestion that it's pretty much just shortbread with olives in it. Armed with this information and the confidence that the combination of olives, butter and sugar couldn't possibly lead to an unsavory result, I attacked the olive shortbread on Christmas Eve in anticipation of the imminent availability of family members virtually obligated to stroke my baking ego.

I can't take credit for much, seeing as I used Deb's shortbread recipe to the letter and literally just smashed whole kalamata olives into the dough, but I want to pass this along because it's so easy and so delicious. While the idea might sound a bit odd at first, think of the olives as simply a way of adding more salt with the added benefit of a meaty texture to complement the crumbliness of the shortbread. Much as I've gotten over my aversion to anchovies by thinking of them simply as little salt bombs, so anyone should get over a fear of injecting olives into baked goods.

Kalamata Olive Shortbread
by way of Abraço and Smitten Kitchen

A note: when I make this again I will roughly chop the olives in order to better incorporate them into the dough. I will also use a larger pan so that I am able to spread the dough a bit thinner so the resultant shortbread is a bit crispier.
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
5 Tbl cane sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup kalamata olives, roughly chopped
Line your baking sheet/pan with enough aluminum foil that it overhangs the sides.

Whisk together the butter, sugar, vanilla and salt. Add the flour and mix until just incorporated. Fold in olives.

Spread the dough evenly over your baking sheet. You're going to have to really press this stuff into the corners, I used the back of a rubber spatula.

Let the dough rest for a couple hours or overnight (don't refrigerate).

Preheat oven to 300 and place rack in the lower third.

Bake for 45 minutes, remove and let cool for 10 minutes. Cut shortbread into desired shapes and place on parchment-lined baking sheet. Return to the oven for 15 minutes, then remove and place on a rack to cool.

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