Tag Archives: shortbread

Parmesan Shortbread with Black Pepper, Fennel and Sea Salt

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.

Arrange a rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove plastic wrap from dough. Cut dough into cookies 1/4 inch thick.
Arrange cookies on prepared baking sheet, spacing 1 inch apart. Brush cookies generously with oil, then sprinkle with fennel salt.

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.

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Blue Cheese and Walnut Shortbread Crackers

Like fish sauce, anchovies and hard-boiled eggs, blue cheese is one of those things that tastes better than it smells. And smell it I did, when I baked these shortbread crackers, or cookies, as they appear.

The smell of baking blue cheese will fill your house with that distinctive aroma, sure to drive away intruders who do not have a discerning nose. I quite liked the smell, which wafted up with the roasting walnuts and nutty shortbread. Indeed, these  crackers are delectable. Biting into them, you will at first be hit with a sense of saltiness and (somehow) cheddar cheese ( ? no idea why), which then gives way to pepper and a gentle breeze of blue cheese.

Delicious as an appetizer, along with some fresh fruit, perhaps some nuts and of course a full-bodied red wine. Exactly how I served them.

I adapted this recipe from Ina Garten, of course.

Blue Cheese and Walnut Shortbread Crackers


  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 8 ounces blue cheese (Stilton, or, heck, you could use Gorgonzola), about 12 ounces with rind, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water for egg wash
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and cheese together for 1 minute, or until smooth. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour, salt and pepper and mix until it’s in large crumbles, about 1 minute. Add 1 tablespoon of water and mix until combined (Ina is so smart – the water and butter add the perfect amount of moisture to make a dough).

Dump the dough onto a floured board, press it into a ball, and roll into a 12-inch long log. Brush the log completely with the egg wash. Spread the walnuts in a square on a cutting board and roll the log back and forth in the walnuts, pressing lightly, and distributing them evenly on the outside of the log. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or for up to 4 days.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut the chilled log 3/8ths-inch thick and place the crackers on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.

Bake for 22 minutes until very lightly browned. Rotate the pan once during baking. Cool on racks and serve at room temperature.

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Clementine Meltaways

Happy first day of winter, everyone! I will be celebrating with a wintery walk around Spokane Falls, then a lovely dinner at Wild Sage and a brass-quintet Christmas concert in St. John’s cathedral. And in between will be even more holiday baking.

I don’t know what army my mother and I expect to feed, but we sure are prepared. One batch of cookies are those that I baked for a recent dinner party at my friend Tonya’s house. Called a lime meltaway and featured on Closet Cooking, it is a simple shortbread juiced up with lots of lime zest and juice. Tossed in powdered sugar, the cookies really do melt in your mouth – little chewing required.

My own twist is the substitution of clementines. If you can’t find this citrus, regular oranges will work. I tried with satsuma tangerines, but the rind was too soft to get a good zest out of it. The citrus is such a wonderful addition to the buttery shortbread – these are perfect with tea or as a light dessert after a heavy meal (like Tonya’s lamb chops with mashed potatoes, spinach and roasted tomatoes).

Clementine Meltaways


  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • Zest of two clementines (roughly 3 T)
  • 2 tablespoons clementine juice (1-1 1/2 clementines)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups + 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar

Cream the butter with the powdered sugar. Beat in the zest, juice and vanilla.
Mix the flour, cornstarch and salt in a large bowl.
Beat the dry ingredients into the wet.
Roll the dough out into a 1 1/4 inch log. Wrap in parchment, wax or plastic and let chill in the fridge for at least an hour.
Slice the dough into 1/4 in thick slices and place them on a baking sheet, 1 inch apart from each other. Bake in a preheated 350F oven until just lightly golden brown, about 12-15 minutes.
Let cool on a wire rack for 4 minutes, then dredge cookies in powdered sugar to coat. The powdered sugar will melt a little bit when it hits the steam of the cookie, creating a sticky sheath that will dry into a wonderful glaze.
Enjoy, friends! xoxo