Friday 23 December 2011

Parmesan Cayenne Shortbread

This is another cheese-y shortbread, but different from the Shortbread Cheesies I posted earlier this month.  These cookies are shaped into balls and then a well is made in the center of each cookie.  They are baked without a filling and then, just before serving, they’re garnished with pepper jam or jelly. 

The recipe makes a large batch.  If you don’t want to bake them all at once, the dough can be divided into smaller portions, wrapped in plastic wrap, and then frozen. 

These little shortbreads are a bit fussy to make, but quite beautiful when finished.  You’ll love the salty-cheese-y flavour of these cookies, and the little bit of heat the cayenne pepper brings to the party.  Your guests will too.  Just be sure to warn them that these shortbread are a savoury treat.  I’ve caught a few people by surprise because they are so pretty looking that people assume they’re a sweet!

To make Parmesan Cayenne Shortbread, you’ll need:

  • 1 pound of butter, softened
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 3-1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups parmesan cheese
  • Walnuts or pecans to garnish each cookie
  • Pepper jam or jelly (I used homemade but the stuff from the deli is just fine too)

Cream the butter, cayenne pepper, and cornstarch together.  Add in the flour and the parmesan cheese, mixing first with a spoon and then by hand.  The dough will be crumbly but will hold together when you press it with your hands.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 1/2 hour.

Shape the cookies into 1 inch balls.  (I scoop the dough with a small ice cream scoop and then roll it between my hands until it sticks together.)  Place the balls about an inch apart on a parchment lined cookie sheet

Use the handle of your wooden spoon to make a well in the center of each cookie dough ball.  The dough may crack when you do this.  Use your fingers to press it together around the handle of the spoon.

Press a walnut half or pecan half into each cookie as shown here:

Bake the cookies at 325ºF for about 12 to 15 minutes, until they are golden brown on the bottom.  The tops of the cookies won’t take on much colour.

Sometimes the walnuts fall off the cookies during baking.  If that happens, press them back into place as soon as you take the cookies out of the oven—before they set up.

Carefully transfer the cookies to a sheet of brown paper and leave them to cool.  Store the cooled cookies in an airtight container.

When you’re ready to serve the shortbread, spoon a little pepper jam or jelly into the well in the center of each cookie.  (They’re even better if you warm them a bit in the oven before spooning in the jam.)

Serve them on a pretty plate and prepare to be adored.

This post has been linked to Life as Mom's Ultimate Recipe Swap.

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