The “Pine Cone” was featured in a Diamond Brand Almond print advertisement, which my maternal grandmother cut out and saved. Madine Schmid was the first to make it in our family. I recall it being made often by my mother nearly 30 years ago where she frequently made it for customers of her small catering business. She crafted other versions of this treat including one for vegetarians, one flavored with salmon and dill and a “Kiddy Christmas” rendition that looked like the face of Rudolf the famous reindeer (“… crushed pineapple (w/ground coriander) & bottled cherry juice to make it pink, evergreen antlers and a red cherry nose…”).
I snapped a photo of the hand written recipe from my mother’s kitchen notebook several years ago and have hopefully expanded the sparse notes she used to remind herself of the process into instructions useful to the novice attempting to make their first Pine Cone. The photo below is a picture of the one Patty and I brought to Vashon in December 2012 (see the Ferry schedule peeking from behind the plate?).
Pinecone Dip Recipe
1 1/4 cup whole unsalted almonds – roasted
8oz cream cheese
1/2 cup Mayonnaise
5 strips Crisp Bacon (Sub. 1 Tbs horseradish & 2 tsp dijon mustard for a vegetarian option)
1 Tbs chopped green onion
1/2 tsp fresh Dill
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
• Roast whole raw almonds at 375F for 6-7 minutes and then let cool.
• Crisp up that bacon in a pan. Drain it dry on paper towels and let it cool until it will crumble easily. Use a food processor or knife to fine chop the bacon if it wont crumble.
• Put the remaining ingredients in a bowl with the bacon and blend very well.
• The mixture will likely be a bit loose and runny at this point. You need it to be cool and firm for happy sculpting into a pine cone shape. Carefully ‘pour’/place the dip onto the platter you plan to serve it on, getting it into a vaguely pinecone shape.
• Chill the plate of dip in the fridge until firm and sculpt-able. (1-3 hrs. Longer time helps the flavors meld more, so if time allows you could refrigerate overnight)
• Use a rubber spatula, spoons, knives, your clay sculpting tools from art school or what have you to shape the cone.
• Scale the cone with the roasted almonds starting at the bottom and layering them like the scales of, yes, a PINE CONE! Go snip a little pine green from a yard tree and place it on the top of the cone for authenticity.
I have found this will keep under wrap in the refrigerator for at least 3 days, but it is nearly always devoured before then.
The dip may be enjoyed with or without crackers simply eating one almond at a time, scooping dip onto each as one goes.
I hope you enjoy this holiday treat! Once you get the hang of it, why not have fun and come up with your own version?
Note: A few folks in our circle of friends have sensitivities to cow dairy. We substituted 8oz. of plain soft chevre (goat cheese) for the cream cheese and it turned out equally wonderful.
Historic related email from my mother Lynette Courtney:
email From Lynette Dec 23, 2012:
Before my sister, Carol, (who has been making them just as long & is more likely to make one annually than I am) sends in the correction, The pine cone was featured in a Diamond Almond ad, which Jes’ Grandma cut out & was the first to make it in our family. It was definitely a big seller to “Decorative Delectables” customers, in Jes’ youth. Besides the original & vegetarian version, I came up with a canned salmon (w/diil?) version which was fish-shaped with almond scales. (Damn, I’d better come up with a price for a Për’s Smoked Fish Spread version & get it on the website!!!! WOW!)
I also came up with a Kiddy Christmas version, of Rudolph’s face; crushed pineapple (w/ground coriander) & bottled cherry juice to make it pink, evergreen antlers & a red cherry nose. I seem to think that there may have been one more. I’ll have to look in my ancient recipe notebook.
Just thought I’d set the family historical records straight, for posterity.
Happiest Holidays & the Best Ever 2013 to all!
Love, Mom/ Lynette
PS. Jej, if we were to ever to share one of these, I’m afraid I have a strong sensitivity to any goat dairy product; basically, I can taste “goats” no matter how well hidden their cheese may be. Just can’t do it.