This is a cookie so unique that I think tasters are perplexed into thinking they are in love with it. Here is the experience …
First, the smell – Parmesan, nutty and warm. Second, you get the sea salt, crunchy and ripe with minerals. Then, the butter, as the shortbread begins to melt in your mouth. Next, your first bite breaks apart the fennel seeds, releasing a soft anise flavor. After swallowing, the black pepper blooms with heat down your throat.
I just love savory cookies. I’ve made blue-cheese shortbread crackers and had all sorts of cheese coins since living in The South, and these little darlings make me think I’m on to something.
So delicious, especially in the afternoon, with a nice cup of tea. I prefer Earl Gray.
Adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine…
Parmesan Shortbread with Black Pepper, Fennel Seed and Sea Salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup finely grated Parmesan (about 2 ounces)
- 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, crushed or pounded with mortar and pestle
- 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt (I used fleur de sel)
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Using an electric mixer, beat butter in a medium bowl on low speed until smooth, 1–2 minutes. Add powdered sugar, pepper, and kosher salt. Reduce speed to medium and beat, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl, until light and fluffy, 4–5 minutes. Add flour and cheese. Reduce mixer speed to low and beat mixture just until dough comes together.
Wrap dough in plastic or parchment paper and shape into a long cube. Chill until firm, at least 2 hours. DO AHEAD: Dough can be made 5 days ahead. Keep chilled.
Stir together fennel and sea salt. Set aside.
Bake, rotating sheet halfway through, until cookies are golden brown (flecks of cheese will be slightly darker), 20–24 minutes.
Let cool on sheets for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room tem-perature. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.