Parmesan Shortbread? Oh hells yeah.
Bon Appetit’s December issue included a beautifully laid out article featuring easy to make Christmas gifts from the kitchen (and man, those photos were enticing). I wanted to make everything: the spice rubs, the coconut dulce du leche, but most especially the parmesan shortbread, the perfect gift, they said, for cheese lovers. Which both Mr. X and I, as well as pretty much everyone I know, are. Before I flew out to San Diego, I made up a batch and brought them down to the JJ as a gift for my favorite bartenders, as well as wrapping up a few for the boy. I only ate one before giving them all away, and man did I regret it. So much so that I had to make another batch as soon as I got to San Diego.
I do have to admit that this particular recipe is perfectly flavored, but the texture needs a little bit of work. They are just a little too buttery (and you thought that wasn’t possible). They don’t have the density that I really love in shortbread, and I suspect that if you added just a little more flour, they would reach cheesy perfection.
When I made the second batch of these, I included more cayenne and the balance was a little off–stick with an eighth of a teaspoon, I think. I also used garlic powder in the first batch, rather than minced fresh garlic, and I liked the garlic powder version better. I bet these would be awesome with some sage instead of the cayenne, or perhaps some onion powder. Though really, the flavor was perfect, so maybe don’t mess with anything.
Parmesan Shortbread (adapted, but just barely changed, from Bon Appetit)
- 1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour (or experiment and try it with 2 cups)
- 3/4 c. parmesan cheese, plus about 2 T. for sprinkling on the top
- 1 tsp. salt (I use sea salt)
- 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1 c. unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Preheat the oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Mix the flour, the parmesan cheese (minus the bit for sprinkling on the top), garlic powder, and cayenne together in a large mixing bowl. I like to use a whisk to make sure all the dry ingredients are really well mixed.
Add the butter and use your hands (or a pastry cutter, which I need to get), and break the butter up, incorporating the flour and mixing it until you have a coarse, pebbly kind of mixture, the same way you would if you were making pastry dough (yeah, I know that’s so helpful if you’ve never made pastry dough, but this is pretty hard to explain). Once you get the butter broken down into smaller, floury bits, start forming the dough together into one big ball.
Break the ball into two pieces, and roll each piece out into about a 12-inch log. Cut each log into 1-inch pieces and lay them out on the baking sheet, about an inch and a half apart from each other. Use your palm to flatten each circle out a bit, then sprinkle just a bit of parmesan on top of each round. Bake them for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until they are just barely starting to brown.
I wish I had more pictures, because these are some very photogenic snacks, but alas they were eaten by the bartenders and by my family before I could get them in front of a camera. That is how good they are.
When I make these again, I’ll update you all about my experiments. And you can bet I’ll be making these again.