Another foray into the world of savory shortbread and yet another chapter in the leftover cheese chronicles, these crumbly little numbers sprang from a party for which, as is my wont, I bought way more cheese than was strictly necessary.
Cheese, especially good cheese, is expensive. If you want dairy made from happy grass-eating cows and sheep and goats, you’re going to need to spend a little more than you would on dairy from animals fed on industrial corn. But I swear you can taste the sunshine and green fields and happiness in that cheese, and to me, that’s worth it.
Of course, you don’t want any of that cheese to go to waste. If you find yourself with a little more soft cheese than you can handle on your lonesome, consider making these savory cookies with it and deliver them to your friends and neighbors, perhaps wrapped up in parchment paper with a bit of pretty twine. It’ll keep that streak of happiness going from the warm sun to the green grass to the cow to you to your loved ones.
Savory Cheese Cookies
Adapted from Gilt Taste.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup nuts
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar
6 ounces soft cheeses, very well chilled, divided in half
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut in pieces
1 small white onion, finely diced and caramelized
Up to 2 tablespoons of milk (if needed)
Brown sugar, to taste
Using an immersion blender, pulse the flour, nuts, salt, and 1 tablespoon of brown sugar together until the nuts are fairly fine, about the texture of sand.
“Mince” the cheese into very small pieces. This is much easier if the cheese is very, very cold, bordering on frozen.
Combine the flour mixture with half of the cheese, butter, and onion. Reserve half the cheese in the fridge until baking time. Using your fingers, pinch and knead the butter and cheese into the flour mixture until it’s crumbly and fairly uniform. Squeeze some in your hand; if it sticks together easily, do not add milk. If it is still quite dry and doesn’t stick together easily, add the milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough is moist enough to form hold together.
Pour the dough out evenly over two pieces of parchment paper and form logs about 3 cm in diameter. Roll tightly in the parchment and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Meanwhile, heat your oven to 375° F.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove the dough from the fridge and slice the logs into discs about 3/4 cm. Distribute the discs on the parchment-lined baking sheet spaced about 1 cm apart. Softly indent the center of each cookie with your thumb or a knuckle. Into this dent, place a small amount of the reserved cheese and a pinch of brown sugar.
Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool completely on the baking sheet before removing. These cookies will typically last 2-3 days refrigerated in a sealed container.
You can use one or a variety of soft cheeses in this recipe. I’d stick with goat cheeses and runny cheeses with a powdery white rind such as brie or camembert. Avoid blue cheeses and any excessively wet varieties, such as ricotta, cottage cheese, or fromage blanc. I used Brillat-Savarin, a gorgeous triple cream brie, and two varieties of strong goat cheese.
If you have a food processor, you can do the entire dough-making process in it: just combine all of the ingredients except half the cheese and the milk in the bowl of the processor and pulse until the mixture is even. Proceed with adding milk as needed, then follow the rest of the directions as written.
Music to cook by: Helplessness Blues [Fleet Foxes // Helplessness Blues]