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Sweet Lemon and Black Olive Wafers

(recipe, David Leite)

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Cookies aren’t exactly a specialty of the Portuguese. The traditional ones tend to be crumbly and plain, more like a dunking biscuit. One day at a dinner party, though, I had a sweet thin cookie with a distinctive snap. I immediately made notes in my ever-present little black book; the only thing is, I never asked the hostess for the recipe. I spent months trying to come up with a cookie that matched hers, and finally I’ve done her proud. But I wanted to ratchet up the recipe, adding two iconic Portuguese ingredients to the mix: olives and lemons. Serve this alone, as a lovely accompaniment to tea or, my favorite, as a crunchy bite alongside a scoop of vanilla ice cream or lemon sorbet. Atençâo: Sample an olive before you buy them. Strong-flavored ones can give a bitter aftertaste to the cookie.


  1. 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  2. ½ cup mild oil-cured black olives, rinsed quickly if particularly salty, pitted, and coarsely chopped
  3. ¼ cup sugar, plus more for coating
  4. ¼ tsp. baking powder
  5. 2 Tbsp. grated lemon zest
  6. ⅛ tsp. ground cinnamon
  7. Pinch of kosher salt
  8. ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  9. 1 large egg, beaten


  1. Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and crank up the heat to 375 degrees.
  2. 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.
  3. Fill a small bowl with sugar and set nearby. Pinch off 1 rounded tablespoon (about 1 ounce) 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- to 4-inch circle, a scant 0.0625-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 the cookies onto the baking sheet.
  4. 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, but I doubt they’ll stick around that long.