A while back, I attempted a delicious looking recipe for savory parmesan shortbread cookies that included thyme and pecans. And, the dough tasted delicious. But the cookies just didn’t work. The batter never really came together and the cookies came out of the oven looking all broken and crumbly.
I really wanted to attempt a savory shortbread again, but this time I did a couple things differently. First, no nuts. I’m convinced the chunks of pecans led to the cookies’ crumbly demise since the dough never really stuck together well. And second, I followed a different strategy for shaping the cookies. The recipes all seem to call for the shortbread to be rolled into a log and sliced. But since it’s impossible to get a perfectly round or square shape in your log, the cookies will look nicer if you slice, roll the cookie in a ball, and then gently press them down on the baking sheet. Shortbread doesn’t really spread out like normal cookie batter, so this seemed to be the best way to get cookies that are somewhat uniform in shape.
This recipe is really easy and everyone who tried them seemed to like it. Or, at least that’s what they told me. I don’t think they were lying.
It comes from Ina Garten.
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
1/4 heaping cup ground parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon freshly cracked/ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried basil or use the dried herb you like the most
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
I made a few changes from the initial list above. First, the recipe called for salted butter, but I think unsalted is better since the parmesan is salty. Then, since I wanted to get the flavor of my earlier failed attempt at savory shortbread, I omitted the basil, added two teaspoons of fresh thyme, and doubled the amount of pepper. I like peppery things, so I liked the extra kick.
Line a light-colored baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl, mix together the butter, salt, parmesan, black pepper and whatever herbs you are using until creamy.
Slowly add the flour, and mix until dough holds together when pinched. If the dough is still too crumbly, add up to 1 tablespoon of ice water.
Turn out onto a floured counter top, roll into a ball and then into a log. I wanted my cookies to be small, so I made two logs, each about 8-10 inches. But, if you want larger cookies, just adjust the length.
Wrap the log in tin foil or plastic and freeze for at least 30 minutes. You can freeze them for up to a month.
When you take the logs out of the freezer, preheat your oven to 350ºF.
Slice the logs into rounds and roll the rounds into balls. Ina’s recipe says that it yields 36, but since mine were not much larger than a quarter in diameter, I got about 50.
Arrange in rows on the baking sheet. While you need a little space, you don’t need a ton since they won’t spread out like most cookies do.
Bake for 15-25 minutes, checking after about 15 minutes or so. There’s no eggs in these, so you don’t have to worry about salmonella or other creepy things. I found my tiny cookies needed about 17 or 18 minutes, and they were crispy on the outside and a little soft on the inside.
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