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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.
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.
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.
- 1 1/3 cups (135 grams) walnut pieces, divided
- 1 cup (130 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 ounces (56 grams) aged asiago (or similar) cheese, cut into chunks
- 2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated sugar
- 3/8 teaspoon salt (I use fine sea salt)
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 5 tablespoons (70 grams) unsalted butter, slightly softened
- 2-3 tablespoons Powdered sugar, for sprinkling
- 2-3 tablespoons preserves (or conserve), such as plum, cherry, cranberry
What are some savory cookies you have experimented with making? Let us know in the comments!