'S' is for Shortbread!!!
Prep: 10 min // Bake: 10 min // Cool: 5 min
As the quarantine continues and we are locked down at home, we are reinventing and modernising our baking imagination and techniques.
This is a plain English shortbread recipe, twisting it to the savoury side by replacing the sugar with savoury parmesan and with a hipsterish add-on, turmeric, to give some colour. While the turmeric is not much to be picked by the mouth, is enough to catch your eye with its yellow happy and positive glow. Next time I might be trying matcha powder, turn them green. Ideally, these crunchy delights would be a nice surprise for your guests along with a cheese board and a good bottle of wine. For now, we stay home safe and keep daydreaming. The moments with our friends will soon come back and these shortbreads will be cherished as they deserve.
They are marked as vegetarian (for those who still eat cow's milk butter and cheese) and also suitable for infants over 12 months old. My son loved them, he ate half the jar in just 2 days.
Feel free to shape your cookies as per your liking, using cookie cutters or glass bottoms (I love improvisation, post me a photo in comments); I've chosen a shape I spotted in a magazine and thought my little Starbucks espresso cup (that my ex-colleagues much loved) would perfectly find a new job and lend his rimmed bottom side to shape my cookies.
Mixing bowl, food processor, cookie cutters
Ingredients (makes 10-12)
150g plain flour
100g unsalted butter, in cubes
80g Parmesan, grated
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1 tbsp Nigella seeds
Pinch of pepper
Parmesan > Pecorino. Parmesan has a very distinct flavour: it's bold, it's tangy and a bit salty. A good alternative is Pecorino though a bit saltier and much creamier (i.e. fattier). I'd suggest reducing the quantity to 60g if Pecorino is used. Greeks might also be looking at some Cycladic or Cretan Graviera cheeses.
Nigella seeds > black sesame seeds. Black sesame looks quite similar but taste-wise might differ as nigella have a slightly bitter, more intense flavour that resembles cumin or oregano.
Tip: This recipe needs no salt. Parmesan is salty enough to dominate every bite.
Line a big baking tray with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 180c (160c fan).
Toss all ingredients except nigella seeds into the food processor and season with pepper. Whiz until the ingredients incorporate and start becoming a dough. Add 2/3 of the nigella seeds (keep the rest for sprinkling) and whiz again. You should end up with a dough-like in the photo below
Work the dough lightly on the bench with your hands and roll it to a tube of approximately 20cm long. With a knife, cut into 1cm discs and distribute them evenly spaced in the baking tray
Press each disc down using the bottom of a glass (or alternatively use cookie cutter to shape them up). They should end up to around 5mm thick after pressing.
Sprinkle some seeds and bake for 12 min or until golden and slightly start cracking on top
Transfer to wire rack and let them cool down for 5-10 mins before serving.
P.S. I think I found the culprit for my cover photo's bitten shortbread ;-)