Sweet Lemon and Black Olive Wafers

Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you, dear readers! If we were in second grade I would drop a valentine into each of your cardboard mailboxes. Instead, I thought I would go out on a limb with these lemon and olive cookies from The New Portuguese Table by David Leite. If you have spent any time on the internet these past few weeks you have undoubtedly heard people raving about the recipe for milk-based (and egg-free) mayonnaise, maionese de leite, which is also included in this incredibly beautiful book. The milk mayo is something special and a real wonder to behold, but I was immediately drawn to these simple cookies.

I’ll admit that these aren’t for everyone. I am sure a good number of you have already decided you do not like the idea of olives in a sweet biscuit, but I encourage you to try this recipe. The wafers have a beautifully chewy texture with a nice crunch at the start of each bite. The olive and lemon work with the sugar to make a very well balanced mouthful. They really are unlike anything I have ever made, and I love them. They are so incredibly beautiful and rustic. They are ideally served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream but we have been enjoying then on their own all week.

In other news, I wanted to let everyone know that I am now writing for ReadyMade magazine’s online food blog: Feast: Food and Entertaining. I have been impressed with ReadyMade since the first issue was published many years ago and was thrilled to be asked to join the team. They are in the process of launching several new blogs all written by a collection of already established and talented bloggers from around the web. I am proud to be in their company and look forward to what everyone has to share. I’ll be bringing you ideas for desserts, entertaining and beautiful objects for your kitchen. So, please stop by and say hi!

Sweet Lemon and Black Olive Wafers (recipe from The New Portuguese Table by David Leite)

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup mild oil-cured black olives, rinsed quickly if particularly salty, pitted, and coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar, plus more for coating
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Stir together the flour, olives, sugar, baking powder, zest, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk together the oil and egg, pour the mixture into the dry ingredients, and mix with your hands until the dough no longer looks dry and holds together when squeezed, 1 to 2 minutes.

Fill a small bowl with sugar and set nearby. Pinch off 1 rounded tablespoon of dough, roll it into a ball, and coat it well with sugar. Place it in one corner of a sheet of parchment cut to fit your baking sheet, place another piece of parchment on top, and using a rolling pin, roll the ball into a 3 1/2 to 4-inch circle, a scant 1/16 inch thick. The edges will be ragged; that’s how they should be. Repeat with 5 more wafers on the same sheet. Lift off the top sheet and slip the parchment with cookies onto the baking sheet.

Bake until the wafers are edged with brown and pebbled on top, 10 to 12 minutes. Slide the parchment onto a wire cooling rack. Repeat with the remaining dough. Once cooled, the wafers will keep in an airtight container for several days.

***Maybe it goes without saying, but make sure you like the taste of the olives you use in these cookies. They should be mild, and not bitter at all and not too salty. I went to our Whole Foods and tried a bunch to find the right one.

36 comments to “Sweet Lemon and Black Olive Wafers”

  1. OMG. I need to make these. They look INCREDIBLE. I have been wanting this cookbook because we honeymooned in Portugal and I loved all the flavors there. Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  2. Congratulations on the gig! That sounds super fun.

    Cured olive cookies are one of the purest little surprising delights in life — I love them so, so much. The lemon sounds like a really nice twist; I can imagine the salty/sweet/tart flavors balance out nicely, though I also love Kalamatas in a plain olive-oil shortbread.

  3. These look like fantastic salty-sweet deliciousness. Would it be lemon overload to serve with a scoop of meyer lemon ice cream? is there such a thing as lemon overload. thank you for sharing this recipe!

  4. oh congrats on the new job! exciting!
    I would love to make these wafers; so very creative and full of flavors.

  5. You’ve intrigued me with these little wafers! I’ll be making them soon!

    Congratulations on writing for ReadyMade’s food blog! I’ve been a huge fan of there’s for a long time too. I look forward to seeing your posts!

  6. These sound so exquisite. I love how esoteric the flavor combination is – I never would have thought to put olives in a cookie. But sweet and salty is the way to go these days, at least in my opinion. So why not?

    I will definitely be trying them. And looking into this egg-free mayo business…

  7. they sure look pretty, but since i rarely enjoy olives i’ll pass! happy v day!

  8. Thanks for the good wishes, all!
    Sarah, I think these would be wonderful with lemon sorbet!

  9. Congrats Tim – looking forward to following you on ReadyMade! You do manage to find the most interesting and delicious recipes – I’ll be making this one for sure!

  10. I cannot wait to make these. As a Greek, I am partial to both lemons AND olives, so these beautiful wafers seem perfect.

    PS: I’ve been back to Purple Pig twice since our rapturous first meal there, and I have to say, each time I go I try something new and it blows my mind even more than each meal before.

    Any new recommendations? Happy V-Day to you and yours. :)

  11. If it were anyone else telling me to put olives in a cookie, I’d cringe. But given that this has your stamp of approval, I’m looking forward to trying these.

  12. I’m not sure if it’s new or I’m just out of the loop since I usually check new posts through a reader but I love the yellow lines – cute!

  13. Tim-it’s so on! I will whip up a batch of lemon ice cream as soon as can be, as well as these cookies. perhaps they will make up for the tragic pineapple upside down cake that came out of my oven last night. *sob*

  14. Wow,these are so interesting! I will certainly be trying them soon. Love the shape as well. Congrats on the new gig!

  15. Happy (belated) Valentine’s Day, Elena! I was just at The Purple Pig yesterday and thought of you. So good, although it has never been quite as fun as that first night.
    I haven’t tried any new places, it has been a boring few weeks for me. Ha. I’ll keep you posted!

  16. dear tim,
    just received my hard copy book of “blog aid recipes for haiti.”
    i am going to bake “aunt gladdie’s” today.
    great little book…great cause…great chefs!

  17. I’m solidly in the camp of people who are really intrigued by this recipe. It sounds so delicious to me — rustic, earthy — like something an Italian great-grandfather would make to serve after a family supper overlooking the vineyard. Ha – I wish!

    Kudos again on the ReadyMade gig. xo

  18. quick q: could i re-create a second wafer w/green olives…having a dinner party & some peeps like black & some green…what do you think? thanks.

  19. Hi Linda! I always vote in favor of trying. Give it a go with the green, but again look for really mild olives. The flavor of the olive intensifies when it is cooked and so you need to start off with the mildest olive possible. Let me know how it goes!

  20. hey there l&d, thanks so much for your amazing recipes and for helping to aid in my procrastination while completing my m.a. i can’t wait to try this. cheers y’all

  21. oooh…kind of straddling the line between sweet and savory, yes? What an intersting recipe! My mom just bought this book and was telling me all about it…now I’ll surely check it out. Thanks, and congrats on ReadyMade gig…love them!

  22. I was skeptical of the flavor combination here but these are FANTASTIC. Such a delicious cookie with a great mix of sweetness and unexpected flavor! What a wonderful texture too. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe!!

  23. Yay, Poppy! I am so glad you liked them. I agree that they are special.

  24. The rustic look of these cookies is so endearing! And, I must admit, the flavors intrigue me in a big way. Love it. And I’m beginning to think I need to get that book!

  25. congratulations – so exciting! these wafers are a dream.

  26. Hooray! These are so good. Haven’t tried them with ice cream yet, but that’s definitely a goal for the weekend. Thanks for posting (and congratulations too!).

  27. Glad you like them, Kari! I am excited (and relieved) to hear that people are enjoying these. Have a great weekend.

  28. Wow – what a great idea! I’ve made similar savoury biscotti before, but these look lovely and snappy…. love the photos too!

  29. These cookies are terrific. I was obsessed with them when I first saw this recipe. Here’s what I learned: they really would be good for dessert, rather than as a savory with cheese. There’s just enough sweetness to make it ‘desserty’. Someone above recommended lemon ice cream, that would be good, I might go with something like basil ice cream or something herby. I had to up the olive oil to 1/2 cup – that’s the only way I could get the dough to stick together. I just used kalamatas from Trader Joe’s. Next time, I might up the cinnamon to 1/4 tsp. My tastebuds were really glomming onto that cinnamon and sugar combo to offset the olive and lemon taste. You don’t taste the olives so much as FEEL them, yet the cookie is not overly salty. I tossed a little tiny pinch of rosemary in there too. Fantastic fantastic recipe – oh yeah, I’d double it next time too. I only got 10 cookies with the one as written. More please!

  30. Kathryn! Thanks for the enthusiastic comment! Glad you liked them and found opportunities to make them your own.

  31. they look absolutely delicious…something for me, as I love mixture of lemon zest and black olives…I hope I will do this, soon …!

  32. I made these last night (so easy with your clear instructions) and they were delicious! I’m going to add this one to my favorite recipes list. Thanks for sharing!!!

  33. I made them, finally! Printed it ever since you posted it and last night while watching the Sharks win, I made these little guys. My batter was pretty dry, so I smooshed them with the heal of my hands instead of rolling it. I think they came out well anyway. Too bad I burned my tongue the morning of, so it was hard for me to taste it to the fullest. I brought some with me to work this morning and people say they are great. I’m making a second batch as soon as I get home and bringing them to a dinner party tonight. Thank you for broadening my dessert palate!

  34. I am always looking for new and exciting appetizer ideas and this is it! Love the flavor combination and how the finished product looks – perfect!

  35. Bonjour, Chez Us. Glad this looks good to you. I just want to make sure you guys know this is pretty sweet. Might not work as an appetizer as it definitely is closer to dessert. I imagine you could make some adjustments to make it more savory…

  36. Katherine says:

    May 5th, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    These cookies are amazing! Salty and just a little sweet. It’s in competition with this triple ginger cookie http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/triple-ginger-cookies-recipe.html as my favorite cookie right now.

What do you think?