Still riding high from the kudos for my recent holiday shortbread, I wanted to try a savoury version. Always on the lookout for interesting nibbles to start a dinner party, they seemed just the thing.
I found many savoury recipes – some that also included the full amount of sugar – in a regular shortbread!! Hmmm. Wasn’t quite sure what to make of those… If anyone has made a recipe like that – a regular shortbread recipe with the extra savoury bits added… I’d love to hear how it turned out.
After the above search, I contemplated using my own regular fab sweet shortbread recipe – and throwing the Parmigiano in that. Good sense got the better of me. What I ended up going with…? A recipe from Ina Garten, first of Barefoot Contessa and now Food Network fame. She’s a lot like Martha I find, sans the jail time. Dependable and trustworthy… her recipes always work. If you taste these right out of the oven… you’ll find there’s not much there. Like all shortbread and most baked goods, they need time to cool off. Settle in. They need time to become as taste-full as they can be.
A mixer is not necessary for this recipe – if you have the butter at soft room temp it will certainly come together using a wooden spoon, or my fave, a large flexible spatula. Whatever you use to mix it, you will need to bring the dough together by hand. There’s something about the motion of the hands as well as the warmth, that makes this, and most doughs, come together. A bonus…??? This is a great make ahead, as the dough needs to be formed into a log or cylinder, to chill in the fridge, before cutting and baking; this will also relax any gluten that’s been forming, during the mixing and kneading – giving you a tender ‘cookie’. You can also make extra and freeze some.
As for the shape? Round is traditional and easiest to form. As you can see by the above pic, I was feeling adventurous and used a pastry scraper to help me get the (fairly) square edges.
I wanted the full on taste of the Parmigiano Reggiano – so left out the thyme. Your kitchen will certainly smell terrifically of cheese while these are in the oven. This recipe will make about 3 dozen; serve with dips, spreads, soup or just enjoy them as is, with a glass of something you like.
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter
3 ounces grated Parmesan, approx 3/4 cup (do try to use Parmigiano)
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
*1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves (optional)
Place the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix until creamy; add the Parmesan, flour, salt, pepper and thyme (if using) and combine.
Turn out the dough on a lightly floured board and bring it together as you would any shortbread recipe. Roll into a 13-inch long log, wrap the log in plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 30 minutes to firm up.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Cut the log crosswise into 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick slices. Place the slices on a parchment lined sheet pan and bake for 15 – 20 minutes (if you slice them thinner, adjust the cooking time accordingly)
Parmigiano Reggiano. Accept no substitutes.
Starting to look like shortbread.
The warmth of your hands will bring the dough together.
Shape as you like.
Wrap for the rest in the freezer.
Cut with a sharp thin bladed knife.
Always, always bake on parchment or silpat.