Behind The Recipe(s): “Some Enchanted Eating” Menu

Inspired by the idea of a picnic in the woods, one of our cooks developed a forest-themed menu—and went a little theme-crazy with these crisp honey cookies.
honey tree bark biscuits

There is no bark in my Honey “Tree Bark” Biscuits. There are neither leaves nor branches. In fact, even though their name might suggest a fiber-heavy, good-for-you treat, these cookies probably won’t ever make it into a health food store. But they are really tasty.

When I was designing this menu—which I imagined as a picnic you’d eat in the woods—I tried to be as clever as possible in choosing my ingredients. Each dish is full of subtle odes to the forest. Romaine bundles are filled with trout (a fish from woodland steams), and currants and pine nuts (nuts and berries). The entrée is stuffed pork tenderloin (wild pigs live in the forest). For dessert, blueberries (more berries) are flavored with gin (made from juniper, a type of evergreen). You get the idea.

Maggie, one of my fellow food editors, tested my recipe for the bark biscuits. While she was rolling the dough she glanced at me and said, “You know, you’re really letting your freak flag fly.”

And I suppose I did go a little crazy with the forest theme in these cookies. They’re sweetened with honey, because bees live in trees. And when I was developing this recipe, I found myself drawing bark-like patterns in the dough with the tip of a knife, trying my best to imitate the coarse bark of a walnut tree (there are also walnuts in the cookies, of course).

I ended up with cookies that bridge the gap between the imagined forest and the kitchen. They also bridge the gap between savory and sweet, pairing nicely with both the menu’s Blueberries in Gin Syrup and your favorite creamy cheese. They are crisp and deeply flavored, the perfect end to any August meal. Whether or not it’s eaten in the woods.

Although these nutty biscuits travel well for the outdoors, they can be enjoyed anywhere.

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