With the cooler temperatures around Portland these days, I have been craving some hearty, earthy melt-in-your-mouth cookies. I know those pillowy Italian pignoli cookies are a must during the holiday season, but with pine nuts being as ridiculously expensive as they are these days, I wanted to cut the amount with a few other complimentary ingredients. Which brings me to my very own favorite wintery sugar cookie of all time: Golden Raisin Rosemary & Pine Nut Sugar Cookies.
Unlike most sugar cookie recipes, you can make this one all the way through without refrigerating or freezing the dough. Truth be told, I’m a bit of a lazy baker. If I’m in the mood to bake, gosh darnit I want to bake in that allotted amount of time, execute the recipe from A-Z, and be done with it. Every now and then, I’ll take on an all day project, but they’re not my first choice. I went with King Arthur Flour’s basic sugar cookie ingredients, and added in my twists. Because King Arthur rules. And this recipe called for a bit of cream cheese. Isn’t cream cheese pretty much the all-star ingredient of baking these days anyhow? It makes everything just turn into magical magic.
Besides the rosemary, raisins and pine nuts, lemon zest was a really sound choice to add to the mix. I was 50/50 on it, but once I tasted my first bite of all above said flavors, it brought the whole sugar cookie vibe together perfectly. Like a lemon drop sugar cookie, but with some chewy sweet golden raisin bites, toasted earthy nuts and herbal notes. I think I’ve got a good thing going here. I’m not going to lie: I think these are the best cookies I ever baked and tasted in 2014 (as I made them yesterday), and I am confident they will be your favorite cookie of 2015.
A few bakers notes:
- An ice cream scooper is super helpful in keeping the amount of batter per cookie consistent and even when placing onto cookie sheets. If you don’t have one, just eyeball it or use about 3 Tablespoons worth of dough in each ball.
- Feel free to mix it up and use the sugar cookie dough base as your empty canvas. You could try sage or thyme in place of the rosemary, dried figs or apricots in place of the golden raisins, cashew or macadamia nuts in place of the pine nuts. Let your imagination run wild. You really can’t screw up this cookie too badly with a solid dough foundation. I thought adding in a bit of turmeric powder would have given the cookies a nice touch of color, but forgot to add it in at the right time.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1¼ cup sugar
- ¼ cup cream cheese
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract
- 1 large egg
- 1 Tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
- ½ cup golden raisins
- ⅓ cup pine nuts
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- ½ cup sugar for dredging
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease two baking sheets, or line with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, cream the butter, sugar and cream cheese together until light and fluffy.
- Beat in the vanilla and almond extracts, as well as the egg. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.
- Add the flour mixture, mixing at low speed until evenly moistened and combined.
- Gently fold in the rosemary, raisins, pine nuts and lemon zest with a wooden spoon until evenly distributed.
- Scoop the dough with your ice cream scooper, or eyeball to about 3 Tablespoons-worth of dough, and evenly coat the dough with the sugar. Place on cookie sheets, leaving about 2" between each cookie. Repeat until you have approximately 18 cookies. Using a flat-bottomed glass, flatten the cookies down until about ¼" thick.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes, until edges begin to slightly brown.
- Remove from oven and let cool on pan for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.