I learned to craft these lovely little bites during a cooking class at the original Le Cordon Bleu in Paris (more on that below). Many a Parmesan shortbread recipe stop at the cheese, but this version calls for the addition of spicy + smoky chorizo sausage. Not only do they bake up tender and buttery, the chorizo gives the shortbreads a wonderful kick.
When in Paris
The Edible Times Husband produces content for Tennis Channel, which means A LOT of travel. So when it suits my taste (and the budget), I tag along. And somehow find myself taking recreational classes at Le Cordon Bleu. And let me be clear I'm playing it fast and loose with use of the word "recreational". The decorated chefs that teach classes for food enthusiasts and tourists are No. Joke. As if they forget they now have a kitchen full of tourists on holiday, as opposed to their enrolled students who signed up for torture.
Shortbread Chef - who I only ever responded to with Oiu, Chef! for safety's sake - moved like the wind around the tiny teaching kitchen. In goes the flour! Rub in the butter! Ingredients hit the bowl faster than you can blink, and before you know it perfectly shaped morsels are entering the oven at a some celsius temperature I can only guess was around 350 degrees F. Don't let the humor fool you. The experience is as terrifying as it is enjoyable. But even if you only grasp half of what's being taught among the plumes of flour and hasty translations, you'll learn much about French cuisine.
The key to a successful Parmesan shortbread recipe
This won't be the first or last time I'll write this in the worldwide blogosphere - ingredients matter. And the French are perhaps the most fervent advocates of sourcing prized, beautiful ingredients.
For any Parmesan-containing recipe, you can use pre-grated cheese as long as it's the real deal. That powdered mystery cheese with cellulose won't meet the mark here. As they say it won't kill you (Shortbread Chef might), but it doesn't make for an edible time either.
Know where to look
Find a good chorizo at your local specialty markets charcuterie and cheese counter. If you can't find chorizo, any dried or smoked summer sausage will take any shortbread to that ultimate level of delicate deliciousness. Once you're there, be careful. You'll never eat just one.
Yours in shortbread,
makes 20-30 shortbreads, depending on size of mold or cookie cutter
½ cup all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
⅓ cup Parmesan, grated fresh (the pre-grated kinds are often not true Parmesan and/or contain unnecessary starch)
½ cup Spanish chorizo, ⅛-inch dice
6 tbsp butter, unsalted, slightly softened
1 Tablespoons heavy cream, plus more for brushing
2 Tablespoon fleur de sel (sea salt), for garnish
In a large bowl combine flour and salt. Add shredded Parmesan and chorizo and mix. Cut butter into flour mixture using your fingertips. Likewise, this can all be done in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Blend butter into dry ingredients until no large lumps remain
Add heavy cream, and mix just until dough comes together. Knead by hand just until dough is smooth and supple, no more than a minute or two. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least two hours, or up to two weeks.
Preheat oven to 350° F. Roll dough to ¼-inch thickness, using small amounts of flour to prevent sticking. Cut rounds with a 1-inch or similar biscuit or cookie cutter. Brush with heavy cream and sprinkle sea salt on top. Bake on a parchment-lined sheet tray for 12 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown.
Cool on a rack. Store and serve room temperature.
Keywords: shortbread, chorizo, Parmesan
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