Spicy Cheddar Shortbread

Spicy Cheddar Shortbread
Romulo Yanes
Provided by:
total prep
No junk food snack comes close to these easy savory cookies, a perfect finger food.

Recipe courtesy of How to Cook Everything The Basics: All You Need to Make Great Food---with 1,000 Photos by Mark Bittman/Wiley, 2012.

Ingredients

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold butter, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne

Directions

  • Heat the oven to 400°F. Cut the stick of butter into chunks. Grease a baking sheet with more butter. Put all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse several times; as soon as the mixture resembles coarse meal, stop. Turn the dough onto a sheet of plastic, wrap it, and press it gently into a ball. Refrigerate the dough for at least 20 minutes or up to several hours.

    Mixing Shortbread Pulse all the ingredients until the dough is evenly colored and textured; there should be no big lumps. The dough may crumble, but use the plastic wrap to press it into shape. If you pulse to the point where the dough starts to come together, you’ve gone too far.

  • Pinch off heaping tablespoon-sized pieces of the dough and roll them into 1-inch balls with your hands. (Rotate your hands in opposite directions, using gentle pressure to roll pinches of dough into a ball shape.) Put the balls on the prepared pan, leaving 2 inches between them. Press down on each ball with your fingers to flatten it to 3/4 inch thick. (For a more uniform look, grease the bottom of a drinking or shot glass and use that.) If there is dough left over when the sheet is filled, wait and cook a second batch.

  • Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the shortbreads are puffed and golden brown. When they’re cool enough to handle, transfer them to a wire rack and bake the remaining dough. Serve right away or store covered at room temperature for up to 1 day.

  • Tips
  • Refrigerating makes the dough easier to handle and shape, but if you’re in a real hurry, stick it in the freezer for 10 minutes or so.

  • Variations
  • Spicy Cheddar Shortbread by Hand: Put all the ingredients in a large bowl and stir and mash them together with your fingers or a fork until they become moist and crumbly, then press the dough together into a ball, wrap it in plastic, and continue with the recipe from Step 2.
  • Other Cheeses for Shortbread: Try Gruyère, Emmental, manchego, or another semihard melting cheese instead of the cheddar. Parmesan works well too.
  • Cumin-Scented Cheese Shortbread: Skip the cayenne and add 1 tablespoon ground cumin.