A Cheesy, Nutty Cookie to Pack for School/Work/Life

October  3, 2017

Adding a sharp, aged cheese to a rich, nutty butter cookie sounded like a very good, very wise, idea to me. After all, I love blurring the lines between sweet and salty or savory umami flavors. Also, it makes me smile to know that you could serve these cookies on the cheese tray or cookie box, pre-preserves.

You may recognize the cookie dough here. It’s basically my favorite tea cake dough, with some tweaks. I decreased the amount of butter to compensate for the fat in the cheese, and then cut out even more of the butter to make the cheese flavor really pop. I had assumed that less salt would be needed in the dough—because the cheese is so salty—but I was wrong. In fact, it took a tad more salt than usual, and a bit of pepper, too, to balance the sweet and savory elements. Since the basic dough has very little sugar in it, powdered sugar and a bit of jam on top are perfect (and pretty)—and not at all gratuitous—finishes.

Fill me with a preserve, but I don't need it. Photo by Bobbi Lin

I’m more than pleased with the experiment! I got crunchy but melt-in-your-mouth cookies with all the right contrasts. A little sugar on your lips, then the complex nutty cheese, warm pepper, salt, and hint of tannin (from the walnuts), with a final dab of gooey preserves, makes these cookies mouthwatering and irresistible, as well as intriguing.

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All kinds of jams or preserves will do the job brilliantly, since are basically pairing sweet fruit with aged cheese and walnuts—a slam dunk, no matter what. I like the dramatic contrast of cherry, blackberry, or plum jams; fig jam is subtle but also excellent, just as figs are perfect on a cheese plate. But just raid the fridge or cupboard for any open jars of jam and taste tiny bites of the cookies with tiny dabs of jam to find, well… your jam.

And did I mention that they were pretty on the plate, and good with a cocktail? They might not spend too much time on the plate, though. I heard, through a little bird the editor of this piece, that they disappeared from the photo set as soon as they were shot.

What are some savory cookies you have experimented with making? Let us know in the comments!

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My career was sparked by a single bite of a chocolate truffle, made by my Paris landlady in 1972. I returned home to open this country’s first chocolate bakery and dessert shop, Cocolat, and I am often “blamed” for introducing chocolate truffles to America. Today I am the James Beard Foundation and IACP award-winning author of ten cookbooks, teach a chocolate dessert class on Craftsy.com, and work with some of the world’s best chocolate companies. In 2018, I won the IACP Award for Best Food-Focused Column (this one!).

1 Comment

Jackie D. October 3, 2017
Hi, Alice, I'm Jackie. I live in Italy about an half hour's drive from Asiago, where they produce the cheese. I would never have thought about adding cheese to a cookie recipe. I must try ! Thanks for the idea!