Orange and pine-nut cookies

by Jeanne on May 24, 2012

in Baking (sweet)

Post image for Orange and pine-nut cookies


I am a great lover of jokes.  Give me an audience and a platform and the first words out of my mouth are far more likely to be a joke than any other possible opening gambit. (I once told a joke that involved improper relations with a pig to 100 people at a plenary session of a blogging conference – but that’s a whole other story.). I caught the eye of my husband-to-be with my prodigious capacity for whisky, and an entire evening of relentless jokes. He says I simply wore down his defences; I think the term “seduced” is much prettier.  It’s a fine line. I love clever jokes that play on words; I love witty one-liners; I love long and complicated jokes with groan-inducing punchlines; and I love risque, consenting-adults-only jokes.  But the one thing I have never had a huge store of is clean, kid-friendly jokes.



I realised this recently when I was back home in South Africa attempting to entertain my two young nephews and realised that practically none of the jokes that I know are suitable for them.  They either involve some sort of swear word; or some sort of sexual innuendo (possibly involving pigs!); or involve some sort of situational comedy that is simply too adult for a 5-year old and a 9-year old to understand. I tried a few knock-knock jokes, but this usually results in my younger nephew clamouring to make up and tell his own knock-knock jokes, which usually run along the lines of:

Knock, knock!
Who’s there?
I who?
I think you smell like a monkey! HAHAHAHAHA!

Hmmm, well, yes.  Some work needed.

So I have been on a mission to collect a few short, clean jokes before my next visit to South Africa to speak at the South African Food & Wine Blogger Indaba in Cape Town in June. Some of my favourite discoveries so far include: What do you get if you cross a sheepdog with a rose? A collie-flower! Or what is the cat’s favorite TV show? The evening mews! Or maybe what flies around your light at night and can bite off your head? A tiger moth! Or why was the centipede dropped from the insect football team? Because he took too long to put his boots on! But probably one of my favourites, and one I’ve known since I was little is this: When is a door not a door?  When it’s ajar.



I was reminded of this the other day when I set out to make shortbread for a relaxed lunch with a couple of other bloggers two weekends ago.  As usual, I had ridiculously overbooked myself for the weekend: a dinner out on Friday night, followed by a review meal on Saturday lunch, from where I went directly to a friend’s barbecue; and then Sunday morning to do the grocery shopping and bake, before heading off for the lunch.  The theme for the lunch was Ottoman and I looked at a few Turkish shortbread recipes, before deciding to do my own take on these by adding pine nuts and the delicious Nielsen-Massey orange extract that I received in my Plate to Page goodie bag in Tuscany.  I also decided simultaneously to halve the recipe amounts, convert from cup measures to grams, and figure out what the hell ” a cup of butter” really means.  Frankly, you can already see disaster looming, can’t you?

The question that sprang to mind when these cookie came out of the oven was:  when is a shortbread cookie not a shortbread cookie? Mostly when the baker overestimates her own prowess as a conversion calculator, tries to do too many things at once, and adds waaaaay to much sugar and butter to the mix.  Within about 60 seconds of putting these in the oven, I knew I was in trouble as the neat balls slumped into large thin discs.  Still, I persevered, reasoning that the end result could not be THAT bad, given the delicious ingredients.  It was a gamble that paid off.  These cookies can’t in any shape, manner or form be described as shortbread; they are more like the love-child of a brandy snap and a tuille.  They are light and thin with a tangy orange flavour, a nutty hint from the pine nuts, and a pleasing snap as you bite them.  Perfect for afternoon tea, or for enjoying cantucci-style with a glass of sweet wine at the end of an Ottoman feast with good friends – and that’s no joke.







125g unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup flour
1 cup icing sugar (split into 2 half cups)
1/2 tsp orange extract (I used Nielsen Massey’s)
1/4 tsp baking powder
a handful of pine nuts


Preheat the oven to 160C.

In a medium sized mixing bowl, cream together half of the icing sugar, the butter and the orange essence.

Sift the flour and the baking powder together, then slowly add to the creamed butter. Mix well with a wooden spoon until all ingredients are moistened

Line a cookie sheet of baking tray with baking parchment, then roll one teaspoonful of the dough at a time into balls. Place the balls on a baking tray, leaving room between the balls for expansion.  Lightly press a pine nut into the top of each ball

Bake for 15-20 minutes – the cookies should be starting to turn a light golden colour – do not overcook!

Dust the shortbread straight from the oven with the remaining sieved icing sugar and allow to cool completely on a cooling rack.  These cookies are wonderful as an accompaniment to coffee, ice-cream, or dessert wine.

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

bellini May 24, 2012 at 3:34 pm

I can never remember the jokes I have heard or I would have all of my friends in stitches.As for the cookies the extract is al the rage in my books


Kavey May 24, 2012 at 3:36 pm

These onesone only work verbally but I’ll share here anyway… the first is my all time favourite joke in the world!
What do you call a fish with no eyes?
What do you call a pig with three eyes?
What do you call a deer with no eyes?
No idea! (No eye deer)
What do you call a deer with no eyes and no legs?
Still no idea!
(And you surely have heard the third element of that, which definitely wouldn’t be suitable for the nephews, right?)


Andrew May 24, 2012 at 3:37 pm

what lovely light and airy photos…. bet they tasted just the same!
(I can never remember jokes)


Lael Hazan @educatedpalate May 24, 2012 at 4:27 pm

I want to know about the pig….. Hmn? Love that the shortbread turned out to be a cookie. I’m in process of trying to translate a friends recipe from the Italian. What are the measurements for a dollop of milk, a dash of salt, and a glass of wine? Eeek! Your description of the cookie makes it sound like a must bake.


Kit May 24, 2012 at 8:16 pm

How do you know if there is an elephant in the fridge?
From the footprints in the butter.
What do you get if you cross an elephant with a mouse?
Great big holes in the skirting boards.
I don’t don’t why elephant jokes appeal so much but I remember a whole lot more! Love the Fsh one too!
I’ve always been stumped by the cup of butter measurement too. So far I just hack off a lump roughly the size of my cup measure and hope for the best. If you’ve got a more accurate conversion I’d love to hear it!
Mistakes that work are the best sort of baking discoveries – these sound wonderful!


Robin O. May 24, 2012 at 11:38 pm

You get me laughing EVERY time! Sounds like one of my kitchen adventures, so glad the results were so snappy Jeanne!


TravelJunie May 25, 2012 at 2:21 am

A very fun and entertaining post! :) those cookies look good enough to eat! yum!


scarvedstoves May 25, 2012 at 7:23 am

This is really motivating! Im on a cooking journey and would love to hear some recommendations from you! As a beginner Im looking for quick frugal,healthy dishes. Please stop by


Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen May 25, 2012 at 11:20 am

You and my husband would get along beautifully, he’s the jokster in our house.


Rosa May 25, 2012 at 1:34 pm

Good jokes always make me smile!
Those cookies look quite addictive! I know what you mean about doing the wrong conversions… ;-P


Krista May 25, 2012 at 1:46 pm

“I think you smell like a monkey” Oh my, cracking up over here. :-) That brings back memories of growing up with three younger brothers who had an incessant stream of similarly “hilarious” jokes. :-)


Zirkie May 25, 2012 at 7:52 pm

With such a bubbling personality like yours I can totally understand that you love jokes. I am sure that the cookies must have been delicious, but pine nuts are almost unaffordable at the moment in South Africa! I will have to replace it with peanuts! :)


costa rica vacation rentals May 26, 2012 at 11:34 am

I really like your treats. This looks crispy and it is for treat. there is a saying that fun is the best remedies an I think its real. Sometimes even we have a issue we always do the good way.


Su-Lin May 27, 2012 at 11:11 pm

What’s brown and sticky? A stick!
I’ll stick to my day job.
Love the use of pine nuts in your biscuits!


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