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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Cheesy Shortbread - Bittman Style

Don't you hate it when you read a recipe and think it sounds amazing, you look in the kitchen and you have ALL the ingredients - even the unusual ones, you spend the time putting it together, it smells delicious baking, you wait for it to cool and when you offer it to your family they are like "eh, no thanks - why would you think this is good?"  That is what my family did to my cheesy shortbread.

Yesterday, I was looking through my favorite cookbook - How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman - I know you are shocked. And I came across his Cheese Shortbread. He sells it as "a crisp, melt - in - your - mouth snack that will replace cheese its." I was so excited. I had all the ingredients and plenty of time to make them.

I think my mistake was making them too fancy - he gives the choice of Emmental (?) Gruyere or cheddar and I went with Gruyere, then I went with the optiional cumin add-in. What was I thinking? I was preparing this for a wine tasting party???? Instead of an afterschool snack.

Well, if you love Gruyere, and cumin - this is a great snack. I am however stuck with half a batch or more, ready to be made in my fridge and no one wants any.

Back in the olden days, you know when microwave ovens were brand new, we used to make cheese cookies by melting a plate full of cheese in the microwave until it was crisp - that is what these smelled like right out of the oven.

Cheesy Shortbread
8 TBS (1 stick) cold butter cubed
2 cups grated Emmental, Gruyere, cheddar or other semihard cheese
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (I used my good King Arthur flour :o[
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper - I only used 1/4 and it was PLENTY
1 TBS paprika or ground cumin (optional)

  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Put all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse just until the mixture resembles a coarse meal; do not over process! Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate until you are going to make these.
  2. Form the dough into 1" balls. Line the balls on a slightly greased or parchment - lined baking sheet (I used my silpat) leaving a couple inches between them. Slightly flatten each ball with your fingers.
  3. Bake until pastries puff and turn golden brown, about 10 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack, then sprinkle with additional paprika and serve. 

So, to recap - these are perfect for adults, who like smokey cheese. Not for kids who don't.

Any ideas how I can use up the rest of the mix without making these???? If not, I will freeze it and make it for a holiday party where people will be polite and eat them!

Linking this up to my new bloggy friend Erin @EKat's Kitchen's Friday Potluck #6  a new meme where you can share just about any post you want!
I am also linking this to Vegetarian Foodie Fridays @ Breastfeeding Moms Unite! And by Melody's suggestion in the comments I am linking this to Sick of Food's Monthly Food Disasters!


  1. I think you should just make the rest and eat them all yourself. That's what I would do...well, probably not, because I think the rest of my family would love them, too.

  2. What a bummer, they look fantastic -- you are more than welcome to send the rest of it to me and I will make them for a party this weekend! Otherwise, I second Annie Jones, eat them yourself... OR you could have friends over for coffee and cheesy shortbread. I still like the first idea best :)

  3. They sound great to me, but since you cannot send them here, you could:
    *crumble them over a salad as croutons
    ditto for soups and vegetable stews
    *crumb them in a processor and sprinkle over cooked vegetables instead of sauce
    *invite friends and go ahead and open a bottle of wine
    *pound chicken breasts, and roll them up inside like a cordon blu dish
    have a nice day!

  4. I agree with a few of the other gals....keep them all for yourself or have a few friends over for lunch. Melynda's idea of having them with soup or stew sounds perfect. If you can freeze them already pressed into shape then perhaps you can just pull a few out whenever you want them. Great way to bake up a quick snack that the adults will enjoy without having a huge batch sitting around.

  5. I knew Brenda would come through! Thanks Brenda!

  6. Well I know my husband would love them...perhaps my son...but I am not sure my daughters would be willing to try. They sure sound yummy good to me!

  7. Melynda - great ideas but hey it sounds like we are having a party! I know Erin is coming too! Woohoo - thanks for the wine Brenda!
    Penny and Annie want to join us LOL??!

  8. these sound fabulous! what about mixing in a bit of cooked sausage, and an egg or two, cutting into thicker rounds and "re-packaging" as a scone. its a stretch, but might work ;)

  9. I wonder if you could use the dough to line a pie dish and then make a a vegetable pie or meat pie.

    Never mind I just read the other comments, I'm coming to the party! :)

  10. They look good but I guess cumin is really not for kids.

    Can you give them to friends as a gift? Maybe put them in a nice jar or box?

  11. Oh, don't those look yummy and addictive!!

    p.s. I'll email you the gift cert. code tomorrow :)

  12. They sound lovely to me too! I like the ideas the other folks who commented had for using them up too. I'm bookmarking this one for our next cocktail party! Thanks for sharing it.

  13. sounds interesting and your lucky to have it all...happy weekend! :)

  14. Awesome Alea -we will see you at the partee! ;o)

    April - it is a yummy adult appetizer and super simple to put together!

    So many great tips - you ladies rock!!

  15. Aw! Maybe next time just keep with the cheddar hey? Although Melynda's ideas sound pretty good! The thought that just occurred to me is that you should post this at this new blog carnival about recipes that don't work out. Argh - what is it called? I wish I could remember. If I do I will let you know.

  16. I think they sound amazing, and most of my kids will eat cumin. I'd invite a couple friends over and the grown ups can have the good stuff.

  17. Hey Christy! I do love how my dear Marky Bittman can create something so different from something so common. Who thought to put cheese in shortbread? You so need to come and link up some of your bittman recipes on the monthy Tackling Bittman Hop beginning November 4th! Hugs! Alex

  18. I am an adult who LOOOVES smoky cheese, so.... Yes, I think they sound amazing :D

  19. I want some. Maybe even more than "some". These would be my downfall. Who doesn't not like cheese (or shortbread)?

  20. Thanks for posting the recipe to Monthly Food Disaster. I love the story behind the recipe and I think we all had that experience once, everything seems to be perfect, but... Love it! They look yummy too.

  21. I love savory shortbreads. I would have a hard time not eating an entire batch of this myself!!