Four recipe tests, four. That’s how many times it took for me to finally master this recipe, or at least get it to the point that I wanted it to be. I’d made a sweet shortbread cookie before and had managed to get the base for the Millionaire’s Shortbread right with just a couple of tries. This weekend, I’d made it my project to get this savory shortbread right. Part of the secret is keeping the balance between the different ingredients to maintain the cookie-like structure, especially when adding spices and flavorings.
I decided that grating the cheese on the fine holes of a box grater worked the best to bring out its nutty, creamy flavor in the rounds. The final results just didn’t seem to come out the same when I used a Microplane, which created a finer, fluffier pile of cheese. I also made sure that there was just a bit of sugar included in the mix to give them structure and a touch of softness to go with the crisp edges. These will go perfectly for one of my next gatherings, if I don’t eat them all myself first.
Parmesan Shortbread Rounds
Serving Size: 30 2-inch rounds
Prep Time: about 1 hour, with time for dough to chill
1 c. All-purpose Flour
2 Tbsp. White Sugar
1/4 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. Dry Mustard
1/8 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
1/2 c. plus 1 Tbsp. finely grated Parmesan Cheese
8 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter, softened
Combine the flour, salt, dry mustard, and cayenne pepper in a bowl. Add in 1/2 cup of the grated Parmesan and stir together with the flour mixture. Then, put the softened butter in the bowl and mix it into the dry ingredients. Once the butter is thoroughly incorporated, the mixture should resemble fine pebbles.
You’ll need to use the warmth of your hands to shape the dough. Form the mixture into a round log about two inches in diameter. Once it is formed, wrap it in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to rest and chill for a minimum of 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. While the oven is heating up, remove the dough from the refrigerator and slice it into rounds about 1/16 inch thick. If a bit of dough seems to crumble, just stick the round back together.
Place the rounds on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle the rounds with the remaining 1 tablespoon of Parmesan cheese. Place in the oven and bake them for 12 minutes, turning the cookie sheet around after 6 minutes so that the rounds bake evenly.
Once the shortbread rounds have baked. Remove them from the oven and let them sit on the baking sheet for 15 minutes at least. If you pull them from the baking sheet too soon, they will break apart.
Once the shortbread rounds have cooled on the baking tray, remove them and place them on a wire rack to cool further. Then, place them in an air-tight container where they will keep for several days, if folks don’t eat them all right away.