Happy Mother’s day to all the wonderful, selfless & dedicated moms out there 🙂 Also to those moms who prompt the phrase, “Its good but nothing beats my mom’s, (insert food here). For me its her meatballs – haven’t tasted better.
My mom, who is all of those great things just mentioned, inspired me to cook when I was younger (sometimes forcefully) and currently encourages me to keep writing. She, herself rarely needs a recipe and can make delicious meals simply by improvising – something I have not mastered yet…still waiting for that instinct to kick in.
To complement our cheese platter and appetizer spread on this Mother’s Day, I decided to try this recipe for savory shortbread cookies, made with cheddar cheese that pack a bit of heat, topped with fleur de sel. Found it in my “Foolproof” Cookbook by Ina Garten AKA the Barefoot Contessa.
I made the recipe as directed however I do have a few helpful notes:
– Use a mix of Cheddar and Monterey Jack or even Manchego to keep with the southwestern and Latino flavours.
– Add a bit more jalapeno and chipotle to increase the heat because these cookies were quite mild. This recipe calls for half of one pepper, just add a tsp more if you like or increase the amount of chipotle for added smoky-heat. Alternately you can mince your Jalapeno a little larger so that A) you see nice green bits and B) You’ll get bursts of heat in some bites but not all.
– Don’t be too generous with the egg wash. Dip your brush in, let excess drip off and evenly brush several cookies with the one dip. I slathered it on and found that my cookies formed brown, shiny, almost blistery tops.
– You can prepare your unbaked dough rolls and freeze for up to 6 months or refrigerate for 2 weeks! I try to make things ahead like this – it really helps since I work 5 days a week and don’t want to go crazy on the day of my event or God forbid, have skip on things I wanted to make.
– Mince your Jalapeno on a piece of parchment over your cutting board. You would be surprised how the hot pepper residue remains on the board. Anything you cut on it afterwards will be spicy, even if it was wiped down. The board has to be washed thoroughly with hot soapy water to get rid of it before you can chop anything else. Parchment or wax paper can help avoid this.
Jalapeno Cheddar Crackers
Food processor with steel blade
Measuring tape or ruler
Makes 32 to 34 Crackers
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) cold unsalted butter, 1/2 inch-diced
5 ounces extra-sharp white Cheddar, grated
1 tablespoon minced seeded jalapeno pepper
1/4 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
3 tablespoons ice water
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon milk, for egg wash
Fleur de sel or sea salt
Place the flour, kosher salt, and baking powder in a food processor fitted with the steel blade and pulse to mix. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add the Cheddar, jalapeño, and chipotle chili powder and pulse again. With the food processor running, add the ice water all at once. Continue pulsing until the mixture begins to form a ball. Dump the dough onto a floured board and roll it into a 14-inch log. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
If your dough log has formed a flat bottom in the fridge, try to roll it round again or once your cookies are sliced, form them with your fingers or use a round cookie cutter. But honestly they still look nice even if you leave them as is.
Cut the dough in 3/8-inch-thick slices. Place the crackers on the prepared sheet pan, brush with the egg wash, and sprinkle with the fleur de sel. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until golden brown. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.