Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - It was, as Dr. Peter Kolb described on Thursday’s Talk Back program, ‘a Martha Stewart Moment’, as he brought a box of cookies in the studio baked by Mrs. Robin Kolb, that were flavored with real pine needles.

Dr. Kolb has been describing the cookies on his Montana Forestry Minute segments all this week, and Thursday was the real taste test.

A Real Montana Cookie, Made with Real Pine Needles

“'I’ve gotten a lot of questions about the Forestry Minutes where I talked about incorporating conifer needles into baked goods and cookies, and a lot of people have asked me what exactly how you do that?” began Dr. Kolb. “So my wonderful wife, Robin, who is the creative genius behind all of this when I mentioned that you could use conifers for this, baked these cookies just for you. We did a taste test, and then she has very creatively created Christmas cookies that incorporate conifer needles into them.”

Credit: Nick Chrestenson
Credit: Nick Chrestenson

Let the Taste Test Begin!

Dr. Kolb began by having Peter and Nick taste the various pine needles themselves and then asked which were used in the cookies that Mrs. Kolb had baked.

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“These are actual needles from the trees I collected them this morning right before I came here, and they were above dog height so you're safe (laughter),” he said. “They're going to try Ponderosa Pine and Ponderosa Pine has the very long four inch needles.”

Credit: Nick Chrestenson
Credit: Nick Chrestenson

“That’s tangy,” said Peter Christian.

“Sour”, said Nick.

“So that's Ponderosa Pine,” said Dr. Kolb.

On to the next conifer needle.

“I’m chewing a pine needle,” said Peter Christian, thoughtfully.

“This is a Douglas fir needle,” said Dr. Kolb. “Douglas Fir has needles that are about an inch long. They're arranged on a twig kind of like a bottlebrush. They're slender and slightly pointed. So what are your thoughts of those flavors?”

“That has more of a punch,” said Nick.

“It's very robust,” said Peter Christian. Robust is a good word.”

The Grand Fir Needles 'disagreed' with Peter Christian

Lastly, it was the Grand Fir.

“Now, we’ll taste the Grand Fir,” said Dr. Kolb.

“OK, here we go”, said Peter, with a mouthful of Grand Fir needles.

“Oh! Wooo,” immediately said a retching Peter Christian, spitting out the needles as fast as possible.

“Uh, oh, poor Peter,” said Nick.

“That’s not doing it for me!” said Peter.

“That one had the most flavor,” said Nick as he laughed at Peter spitting out the Grand Fir needles.

Ironically, the needles used by Robin Kolb in her Pine Needle cookies were from the Grand Fir.

Peter Christian said he’s sticking with his own wife Lorna's world-famous Monster Cookies!

Here is the recipe kindly shared by Robin Kolb on Thursday’s Talk Back show. Don't worry, not all the cookies Kolb brought were made from tree needles.

Credit: Nick Chrestenson
Credit: Nick Chrestenson

Grand Fir Sugar Cookies

· 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour

· 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

· 1/4 teaspoon salt

· 8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

· 3/4 cup sugar

· 1 large egg

· 1 teaspoon (pick one) orange extract or lemon extract or pure vanilla extract

· 2 Tablespoons fresh Grand Fir needles finely processed with ¼ cup sugar (I use a coffee grinder dedicated to spices or finely chop)

· For topping after baking: 2 Tablespoons fresh Grand Fir needles processed with ¼ cup sugar, leave some texture


· Step 1

Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl. In a separate bowl, beat butter and sugar with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in egg, the needle and sugar mix, and extract. Reduce speed to low. Gradually mix in flour mixture. Turn out dough, and divide in half. Flatten each half into a disk, and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour or overnight.

· Step 2

Preheat oven to 325 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds of oven. Let one disk of dough stand at room temperature just until soft enough to roll, about 10 minutes. Roll out dough on a lightly floured work surface to just under 1/4-inch thick, adding more flour as needed to keep dough from sticking. Chill in refrigerator until firm, about 30 minutes. Cut out cookies using desired cutters or templates. Transfer to parchment-lined baking sheets as you work. Roll out scraps, and repeat once. Repeat with remaining disk of dough. Chill cookies in freezer until very firm, about 15 minutes.

· Step 3

Bake cookies, switching positions of sheets and rotating halfway through, until edges turn golden, 15 to 18 minutes. Immediately after taking out of the oven, sprinkle with Grand Fir sugar. Let cool for a minute before removing to cool on wire racks.

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