I've had this aversion since I was a kid. Nuts in a savory dish, such as pad Thai or spicy peanut noodles or African peanut-tomato soup? I'm all in. But add them to a sweet and I'm afraid I'll have to pass.
With one exception. I don't pretend to understand why, but I have discovered that I enjoy pine nuts in just about anything, including many baked goods. In the U.S., we tend to associate pine nuts with savory dishes, such as pesto or salads. But in Italy, they also frequently appear in cookies, tarts and other baked goods.
That's how I got the inspiration for these easy drop-style holiday cookies. They are my version of a chocolate chip cookie with walnuts. The pine nuts add a wonderful toothsome creaminess that plays so well with the white chocolate chips and orange zest. But if dark chocolate is more your style, swap it and the cookies will still be delicious.
CHEWY WHITE CHOCOLATE-PINE NUT COOKIES
Start to finish: 30 minutes
Makes 4 dozen
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
11-ounce package white chocolate chips
3/4 cup (4 ounces) pine nuts
Zest of 1 orange
Coarse decorating sugar (optional)
Heat the oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with kitchen parchment.
In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the salt, vanilla and eggs, then beat on low until well mixed. Add the flour and baking soda, then mix again until just incorporated. Add the chocolate chips, pine nuts and orange zest, then mix on low until evenly distributed.
Working in batches, scoop the dough by the tablespoon and form into balls. If desired, roll each ball in decorating sugar. Arrange the balls on the prepared baking sheet, spacing them 2 inches apart. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned. Cool on the pan for 2 minutes, then use a spatula to transfer to a rack to cool completely. Let the baking sheet cool between batches.
Nutrition information per cookie: 130 calories; 70 calories from fat (54 per cent of total calories); 8 g fat (4 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 20 mg cholesterol; 14 g carbohydrate; 0 g fiber; 9 g sugar; 2 g protein; 65 mg sodium.
J.M. Hirsch is the food editor for The Associated Press. He blogs at http://www.LunchBoxBlues.com and tweets at http://twitter.com/JM_Hirsch . Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org