'Tis the season of cookies and Christmas baking: gracing the covers of every food magazine, piled high on platters at parties, stashed away in your freezer at home. I love cookies as much as the next person, but this sugar overload has me turning my back on chocolate, eggnog, and gingerbread in favor of the salty side of the baking spectrum: savory shortbread.
Could this also be an excuse to cram even more cheese into my diet? Probably. But I'm telling myself that I'll give them away with bottles of wine as gifts. (If you receive a bottle of wine with no cookies then you'll know that these never made it out of my kitchen..sorry in advance).
Last time I made savory shortbread I couldn't wait to play around with different flavor combinations. I wanted to use this cheddar because it's texture is so soft that it acts almost like butter in a recipe, and it's extra sharp flavor gives the shortbread a cheddary tang.
The recipe is simple: the butter and cheese are creamed together in one bowl. The flour, cornstarch, and pinch of salt are whisked together in another. Then the cheese mixture and the flour mixture are stirred together until a sticky dough is formed..
.. which is then rolled out in a large ziplock bag until it fills 2/3rds of it evenly. This is my favorite method of rolling out shortbread dough: no dealing with dough sticking to the counter or the rolling pin, no messing around with parchment paper or trying to squeeze a crumbly log into a paper towel tube so it keeps it's shape. Just fill, roll, and pop in the freezer until firm.
Then the cookies (should I be calling them crackers? Cheddar chive crackers?) bake in a 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes until light golden on the bottom.
They're a great addition to a table of appetizers at a party or paired with a bottle of wine as a gift (if you don't eat them all...).
Cheddar Chive Shortbread
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup Maclaren's Imperial Cheddar (I really recommend using this exact product because it needs to be soft and spreadable)
1 cup flour minus 2 TBSP
2 TBSP cornstarch
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
1/8 tsp salt
1. Cream the butter and the cheese together until smooth and completely combined.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, chives, and salt
3. With the mixer on low add the flour mixture to the cheese mixture. Continue to mix on low until a dough starts to form and the flour is almost completely worked into the butter and cheese.
4. Put dough into a large ziplock bag and roll out until it is almost 2/3rds full. Transfer the bag to the freezer to chill until completely firm (about ten minutes)
5. Meanwhile: preheat the oven to 350
6.Once the dough is firm, remove it from the bag (you may need to cut it free) and slice the dough into squares. Place the squares on a greased or parchment paper-lined cookie sheet with 1/4 inch space between them.
7. Bake for 8-11 minutes until very light golden on the bottom. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack before serving.