If you’ve ever been a fan of Cheez-It crackers, these shortbread are the DIY alternative. I encountered this recipe while writing a story for the San Francisco Chronicle about Sue Conley and Peggy Smith, the founders of Cowgirl Creamery.
Sue said her mother always topped them with pecans and cooled them on paper bags to soak up any oil left after baking. I’ve made a few minor changes, but the sharp Cheddar bite in each shortbread is true to the source of inspiration. A quick note on the recipe: Use a stand mixer—it’s not easy to mix the dough by hand. Also, be sure to use the “scoop and sweep” method of measuring flour.
Cheddar and big red wines have long been friends; everything from Merlot and Bordeaux to Zinfandel works well with the nutty, rich flavors of the cheese.
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Savory Cheddar Shortbread
- 3⁄4 cup plus 1 tablespoon (116 g) all-purpose flour
- 1⁄4 cup (18 g) almond flour or meal*
- 1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1⁄2 teaspoon paprika
- 1⁄4 teaspoon baking powder
- 8 tablespoons 1 stick (113 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 8 ounces (225 g) Cheddar cheese, preferably sharp, grated with the medium holes of a box grater
- In a medium bowl, whisk together both flours, the salt, paprika, and baking powder. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn the speed to low and add the cheese in handfuls, beating a few times after each addition, until it’s all thoroughly mixed in, about 3 minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture until incorporated. The dough will be stiff, so let the mixer use its muscle to get the job done. If it is still crumbly, press the dough into the base of the bowl with your hands to help it come together.
- Lay a sheet of parchment paper on a work surface. Scrape the dough onto the paper and form into a log about 12 inches long. Wrap the log snugly in the paper, twisting the ends tightly. (If you don’t have parchment paper, wrap the log in plastic wrap.) Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Unwrap the dough and use the parchment paper to line a half-sheet pan. Line another half-sheet pan with parchment paper. (If not using parchment paper, lightly oil the pans.) Slice the dough crosswise into 24 coins just under ½ inch thick and divide between the pans, spacing the coins about 2 inches apart.
- Bake the dough, rotating the pans halfway through, until the shortbread are golden brown along the edges, 14 to 16 minutes. Let cool completely on the pans. The shortbread can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.
Reprinted with permission from Wine Style: Discover the Wines You Will Love Through 50 Simple Recipes by Kate Leahy, copyright © 2021. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House.