These tangy Gorgonzola pistachio shortbread “cookies” are the perfect appetizer
to nibble with a glass of wine. A touch of cayenne gives them a hint of heat, and lemon zest brightens up the flavors.
Around this time of year I go into baking marathon mode and have fun in the kitchen, making an assortment of goodies to share with friends and family. Food gifts are delicious and consumable, so you don’t accumulate more stuff (Mr. Fussy likes that!), and much more personal than buying a box of cookies. An added bonus: I indulge my love of baking and can give away most of the results!
This year I wanted to do something different from my usual array of dessert treats. Inspired by a cheese shortbread recipe on Kevin Lynch’s Closet Cooking, I made an appetizer: Gorgonzola Pistachio Shortbread. I took these to several friends who aren’t fans of sweets (imagine that!), along with yummy spiced nuts—another easy recipe I’ll share this week. They were thrilled to have savory, cheese-laced “cookies” to nibble with a glass of wine.
The dough comes together in a flash, although it requires chilling so that it slices neatly. Adding a touch of cayenne gives it a hint of heat, and lemon zest brightens up the flavors. I turn out my dough on wax paper to help me roll it evenly, then roll up each log, starting from one end. Into the refrigerator they go. Once the dough is firm, I slice and bake. What could be easier?
I highly recommend making up a batch or two and freezing the rolls of dough, ready to prepare when company comes. Heck, why wait? Bake some up for yourself! The baked shortbreads keep for several days in an airtight container at room temperature—if they last that long!—and freeze well, too.
Even better, this basic recipe adapts well to other combinations of cheese and nuts. I made a batch with Gorgonzola, walnuts, and rosemary (you can see them in the rolled and sliced dough picture above). How about Stilton and hazelnuts, or cheddar, pecans, and chile powder? What flavors would you include in your cheese shortbreads? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments.
Mr. Fussy rated these 4 Martinis (Pretty darn good). Do you agree?
- 1/2 cup 1 stick/4 ounces butter, room temperature
- 1 cup crumbled gorgonzola, c. 8 ounces, room temperature c. 8 ounces, room temperature
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup pistachios, coarsely chopped
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
In a stand mixer, cream the butter. Add the Gorgonzola and mix at medium speed until well blended, about a minute or two.
Combine the flour, cornstarch, salt, and cayenne and add to the butter and cheese. Mix at medium speed until a soft dough begins to form. Reduce mixer speed to low and mix in the pistachios and lemon zest just until evenly distributed.
Place the dough on a sheet of wax paper and work gently with hands until dough comes together. Divide in half and form into two logs about 8 inches long and 1 ¼ inches in diameter, using wax paper to help roll evenly. Wrap in wax paper and chill dough for 1-2 hours, until very firm.
Preheat oven to 350F/180C (325F/163C for convection). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Cut dough into slices ¼ inch thick and place 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake until lightly golden brown, about 10-12 minutes, switching baking sheets half way through. Remove and cool, allowing shortbreads to firm up before transferring them.
- Time shown does not include chilling time.
- The shortbreads can also be made with a hand mixer or food processor. To make in a food processor, process butter and Gorgonzola together until creamy. Add dry ingredients and pulse to coarse meal stage. Add nuts and zest, pulse until dough begins to form. Be careful not to overprocess.Then follow recipe from step 3.
- Instead of forming into logs, you can roll chilled dough ¼ inch thick and cut into desired shapes.
- Dough freezes well.
- For metric measurements, use this handy conversion table.