Pine Needle Shortbread
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt if butter is unsalted
1/3 cup finely ground pine needles (we used Eastern white pine)
1 Tbs orange zest
1 Tbs spice blend (cinnamon, nutmeg, etc.)
2 sticks butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Finely grind the pine needles in a coffee grinder or chopping by hand. Mix flour, salt, pine needles, orange zest and spices together in a bowl. Cream butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer or with a handheld mixer. Do not overbeat, you do not want to incorporate air into the butter and sugar, only to fully incorporate the sugar. Add the flour and salt and mix on low until the dough just starts to come together. It should look “shaggy,” with pieces about the size of large peas.
Turn the dough out onto the counter and knead a few times, to get it to come together completely. Roll to desired thickness (no more than 1/2”), and cut into shapes. Re-roll scraps; shortbread easily rolls out several times.
For a traditional touch, dock (prick) all shortbread dough with a fork. This allows steam created by the water in the butter to escape, creating a crumbly, perfect shortbread.
Bake for up to 30 minutes, checking for a tan color at 25 minutes. Remove from the oven. Cool thoroughly, before storing in an airtight container for up to a month.