Sunny Luxury- Spanish Olive Oil, Orange, and Anise Crackers

Ahoy Foodies!
We all have moments of weakness. Mine usually come in the “specialty” aisle of the grocery store. You know, where they keep all the things labeled “triple cream,” “imported,” and “extra virgin.” They might as well have a big banner that reads “Welcome Ye Of Little Self Control!” One of my dirtiest little specialty secrets is Spanish Torta de Aceite–crisp olive oil crackers handmade in Seville and anywhere else in Spain there is olive oil just laying around.
The tortas come individually wrapped in wax paper in sets of 6, and once you get your hands on one, you’ll understand why: tortas are made up of 24% olive oil by weight, so they tend to leave an oil slick on everything they touch, including your fingers.  I suspect they are actually deep fried in olive oil. Yum.
Since tortas cost a whopping $6 per package and are super-rich, they are a rare treat. So I thought I might sort it out at home, and for the most part, I have. This recipe yields the same piquant-sweet-beguiling Spanish torta flavor, but they aren’t nearly as greasy.
My favorite kind of of torta includes flour, orange, sesame, sugar, and anise seed, as reflected here. I include a bit of orange blossom water, to guild the lily, but honestly you could make these with garlic and coarse black pepper if that’s what floats your boat. Just remember, this is all about the flavor of olive oil, so here’s your chance to bust out the good stuff!
Olive Oil Crackers with Orange, Anise, and Sugar
Makes about 2 dozen 5-inch crackers
7 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
Zest of 1 orange
1/4 cup, plus 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, preferably Spanish
1/2 teaspoon orange blossom water
2 cups (9 ounces) unbleached all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 1/2 teaspoons anise seeds
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons sugar, divided
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment or silpat mats. In a 2-cup glass measuring cup, whisk together the orange juice, zest,  oil (these crackers are all about the oil, bust out the good stuff), and orange blossom water.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, anise seeds, baking powder, salt, and 4 tablespoons of the sugar. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and knead until you have a smooth dough, 5 minutes. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes.
Divide the dough into walnut shell-size balls and cover with plastic. Dust a work surface with flour and roll 2 of the balls out into 5-inch rounds (you may need to start on one, let it rest for a few seconds, and move on to the 2nd ball. As the dough relaxes, it will be easier to roll without it springing back.) If the dough is sticky, dust it with flour and pick up the dough as you’re rolling to make sure it’s not sticking.
Transfer the rounds to a silpat-lined baking sheet and repeat with remaining dough balls. Sprinkle the dough rounds with sugar, press lightly to adhere sugar to crackers. Bake, rotating baking sheets once, until the dough is crisped and brown, about 15 minutes.  Cool the crackers on racks and store in an airtight container once cool.

11 Responses to “Sunny Luxury- Spanish Olive Oil, Orange, and Anise Crackers”

  1. Mary Wolf
    April 10, 2011 at 2:36 AM #

    YUM! What’s your favorite olive oil?

  2. April 10, 2011 at 4:32 PM #

    I like McEvoy,, made in CA for most things.

  3. April 11, 2011 at 11:33 PM #

    OK, seriously, I want to make this. Seriously. I haven’t even thought of making those tortas from scratch. But with orange flower water? OK, I’m doing it.

  4. April 12, 2011 at 4:03 PM #

    Heh Mark

    Thanks for stopping by! I just got an inside tip that the price of those tortas are going up (to about $9/pack)! These taste like those, only less greasy…and more sugary.

  5. April 16, 2011 at 5:58 PM #

    Ivy, thank you so much for this. I’m always looking for something special for my classes and these are totally the ticket! The first time I bought those crackers, I was totally shocked by the amount of oil – just can’t do it. This looks MUCH more modest and probably more delicious. Can’t wait to try them!

  6. April 16, 2011 at 6:25 PM #

    You are most welcome, Dana!

  7. April 17, 2011 at 7:16 PM #

    I LOVE these! I am a SF transplant in North Dakota and miss these (amoung many, many other things) I used to buy all the time. Now I can make them! Thanks for the recipe!

  8. April 17, 2011 at 11:11 PM #

    Hi Kate
    Thanks for stopping by! Yes, you can do these at home, they are less greasy, too! And you can tinker with the flavors until you get something you like, instead of being at the mercy of the Spanish.

  9. April 18, 2011 at 6:42 PM #

    I love the look of this recipe. Rosemary, for some reason, is softly whispering to me, and has nearly convinced me into adding her to the mix.

  10. April 20, 2011 at 11:51 PM #

    I love homemade crackers, but I’ve never made anything this sophisticated! I’ve been looking for a reason to invest in a really nice (read: expensive) bottle of olive oil, and this looks perfect. Thanks!

  11. May 16, 2011 at 1:33 PM #

    can’t wait to make them: just what I need today: some salt, some crisp, some spice, some sweet and some spice!

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