A couple of years ago, I was at a friend’s Christmas party and her daughter offered us some of her homemade Parmesan shortbread biscuits to go with our drinks. They were so addictively delicious, I confess that I probably ate more than my fair share. Determined to make some myself, I tracked down a couple of recipes; a Nigella and an Ottolenghi version. After a bit of experimentation, this is my final and favourite recipe combo. I made a couple of rolls of the shortbread dough before Christmas, stored it in the fridge in some clingfilm and cooked up a fresh batch whenever I needed them. Definitely a hit – this one’s for you Jane!
You will need…
- 215g plain flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
- 1/2 teaspoon Pimentón or standard Paprika
- a pinch of chilli powder
- a pinch of Maldon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
- 170g soft, unsalted butter
- 170g Parmesan cheese broken into chunks or grated
- 1 small egg, beaten
- 40g poppy seeds
- 40g sesame seeds
- I made mine in a food processor although you could make it by hand in a mixing bowl.
- Add the Parmesan to the food processor and blitz into crumbs.
- Add in the butter and blitz again until blended.
- Add in the flour, mustard powder, Pimentón, baking powder, salt, pepper, chilli powder – blitz one more time until it becomes a soft dough.
- Lightly flour a rolling out board/work surface and divide the dough into two equal pieces.
- Roll each piece into an even cylinder, about the size of a £2 coin. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for about half an hour so that the butter firms back up again.
- Brush the dough cylinders with beaten egg and roll one in poppy seeds and the other in sesame seeds. Wrap the dough in cling film again and leave in the fridge until needed. They will keep for a couple of weeks like that, or you can freeze them.
- To bake, preheat the oven to 170C. Cut the dough into coin-like slices about half a centimetre thick. Don’t cut slices that are too thin or uneven in thickness otherwise they will either burn or be undercooked.
- Place the shortbreads on to a non-stick baking sheet (evenly spaced, about 12 per sheet) and bake on the middle shelf for 12 minutes. Set a timer!
- The biscuits should be golden and will crisp up a little more as they cool. Serve either just warm, or completely cooled. They will stay crisp if stored in a tightly sealed tin so long as they are completely cool – don’t worry, they won’t last that long!