These pine needle shortbread cookies are perfect for the winter holidays. The herbal, citrusy flavor of pine pairs beautifully with spicy cinnamon & clove and tastes like Christmas —in cookie form.
If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, winter is a wonderful time to forage pine, as it is one of the few things that’s still lush and green in the colder months. Pines are fairly common in most parts of the world, so chances are good that you have some type of pine growing near you.
Identifying pine trees is fairly straightforward, but there are a few other types of evergreens that look similar. Check out this helpful post from Grow Forage Cook Ferment for a little extra clarification. It is important to be sure that you properly ID any plant that you plan to consume. While most pines are edible, you may want to avoid the Ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa), as there have been some concerns about toxicity (the post I linked above has more in depth information in regards to that). Norfolk Island pine (Araucaria heterophylla), which is not a true pine, and yew (Taxus spp.), which is quite toxic, are not edible and should be avoided. You will also want to make sure that you aren’t harvesting from a tree that has been sprayed with toxic chemicals.
When you find a pine to harvest from, you can snip a small branch with healthy looking needles for use in your cookies. The younger, more tender needles are ideal, if you can find them. You won’t need much, only a handful of needles, or so (just 4 Tbsp, once chopped).
Once you’ve harvested your pine needles, you are ready to make cookies.
You will need:
- 1 cup butter
- 1/2 cup panela (substitute brown sugar, if panela is not available)
- 1 1/2 cups white flour
- 1/2 cup yucca starch (substitute corn starch, if needed)
- 4 Tbsp fresh pine needles, finely chopped
- 2 tsp cinnamon powder
- 1/2 tsp clove powder
Cut the tips and ends off of the fresh pine needles. Then chop very finely and set aside.
In a large bowl, mix together the panela and butter until creamy. Slowly add the the flour and starch, stirring until well blended. Then stir in the pine needles and spices.
Lightly dust your hands with cornstarch and roll the dough into 1 inch balls. Place an inch or two apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Gently flatten the balls and press with a fork.
Bake at 300° until bottoms are lightly browned, about 20-22 minutes (exact baking time will vary based on your oven & elevation). Cool for 5 minutes before removing from the cookie sheets.
Spread a little cheer this holiday season by bringing a plate of these cookies to a Christmas party, or packaging them up and gifting them to friends & family
Hope you all have a sweet holiday season!