Shortbread is marked by its fine, crumbly and sometimes delicate texture, as well as its buttery flavor. They’re primarily made with butter and flour, and although they’re often served as dessert with coffee or tea, most shortbreads don’t have a lot of sugar in them. This means that they’re easily adapted into more savory applications, like this parmesan cheese-infused variation.
This shortbread comes together very quickly and makes a really nice homemade appetizer to put out with some wine. You can make it by hand, but it is easiest to put it together in the food processor. Simply add your flour, parmesan, spices and butter, then pulse everything together before pressing the mixture into a pan and baking it until golden. The spices I added in are the same ones that I might add to a batch of homemade macaroni and cheese – garlic, chipotle pepper (cayenne will work well, too) and mustard – since they go so well with cheese. They’re subtle and just give these shortbreads a little bit of dimension.
When baked, these are tender and slightly crumbly, and they’re much less crisp than a cracker because they are quick a bit thicker than your average cracker would be. They have a great flavor and are quite addictive, so it’s a good thing that this recipe makes quite a big batch. These are best when they’re fresh and eaten the day they’re made, but you can store them in an airtight container. If you need to crisp them up after a day or two, simply put them on a baking sheet and pop them into a 350F oven for 5-8 minutes and you’ll be all set.
Parmesan Shortbread Squares
2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp ground chipotle pepper (or cayenne)
1/4 tsp ground mustard
1 cup butter, chilled and cut into pieces
Preheat oven to 350F.
In a food processor, combine all ingredients except butter and pulse to combine. Add butter and pulse until mixture has a damp, sandy look to it. Pour into a 9×13-inch baking pan and press firmly into an even layer.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until shortbread is slightly golden around the edges of the pan.
Cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then use a butter knife to cut shortbread into about 60 squares (6×10). Allow shortbread to cool completely in the pan.
Serve with dip, cheese or any other appetizers.
Makes 60 squares