Photo by T. Mike Fletcher
While shortbreads are usually thought of as sweet, these shortbreads are definitely on the savory, snacky side. Anything with cheddar cheese, pecans, and cayenne pepper is definitely on my must-try list. But I must warn you, these are absolutely, positively addictive. There is no way to eat just one—hence the large batch recipe!
They are perfect for the holidays, as they can be kept in an airtight tin for weeks and in the freezer or remain unbaked for months. They will seem a lot zippier if eaten when just baked, though. They should be made and stored in a tin for at least a few days to mellow them out, which is even better for the busy times.
I found a cheddar cheese by Cabot that is marked "Extremely Sharp" and used that. Buy the sharpest cheese you can find so the cheese comes out in the cracker.
A quick turn in the processor or mixer, and you are looking at about 200 shortbreads, depending upon how thick you cut them. That's about it for the Zippy Cheddar Pecan Shortbreads. Just make 'em and enjoy 'em, or give them to some lucky holiday recipient.
- 1 cup pecan pieces (114 grams or 4 ounces)
- 8 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese or Extremely Sharp if available (225 grams)
- 1/2 pound butter, cold for the processor method, room temp for the mixer method (8 ounces or 225 grams)
- 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour (340 grams or 12 ounces)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spread the pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast for 5 to 7 minutes until fragrant and lightly colored.
- Cut the cheddar cheese into 1/2 to 3/4 inch pieces and set aside. Cut the butter into the same size pieces and keep cold.
- Place the flour, salt, and cayenne in the processor. Pulse several times to mix.
- Add the cheddar cheese chunks and process until the cheese cannot be seen. You will have orange-looking flour.
- Add the cold butter and process until the ingredients make a ball. This may take a minute or two. Do not add water or any liquid. If necessary, redistribute the dough in the processor to help it along. Towards the very end of the processing, add the pecans.
- The butter should be room temperature and the cheese should be grated.
- Place the butter and cheese in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Cream until completely mixed.
- Add the salt and cayenne pepper, beating to incorporate.
- Add the flour in three parts, mixing each time until completely incorporated.
- Add the pecans.
- Divide the dough into four pieces (225 grams each or 8 ounces).
- Roll each into a log 13 to 14 inches long.
- Wrap in plastic wrap or foil and refrigerate until firm. The rolls may be frozen at this point for several months.
- Thaw in the refrigerator to cut.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Cut into slices about 1/4 inch thick. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes until just colored.
Cool completely. Store in an airtight tin.