Savory Mixed-Nut Shortbread
Inspired by the cocktail nuts served at Union Square Cafe in New York City — butter-rich, toasty warm and fragrant with rosemary and cayenne — this no-mixer press-in cookie is a joy to make. You simply melt butter with rosemary and black pepper, stir that into dry ingredients, and then press the dough into a pan. Salted nuts and more fresh rosemary go on top before the whole thing is baked and broken into ragged pieces. Persnickety cookie, this is not. Enjoy on a cheese board, with cocktails or after dinner with tea and dark chocolate. Or pack these in a cellophane bag and tie it with a bow to share as a gift. (The cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.)
- Serves: 9 persons
- 1cup/227 grams salted butter
- 1rosemary sprig, plus 2 tablespoons leaves
- ¾teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 ½cups/300 grams all-purpose flour
- ⅔cup/132 grams granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
- ¼teaspoon ground cayenne
- 1 ½cups/115 grams mixed, salted nuts (avoid peanuts if possible), lightly crushed with a heavy skillet or mallet
Step 1Heat the oven to 325 degrees. In a medium saucepan, combine the butter, rosemary sprig and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Cook over medium, swirling occasionally, until the butter is just melted. (You can also do this in a bowl in the microwave, stirring between 30-second bursts). Set aside to cool slightly. (Take a whiff of the butter; it smells like rosemary!)
Step 2In an ungreased 9-by-13-by-2-inch pan, use a fork to stir together the flour, sugar and cayenne until combined. Remove and discard the rosemary sprig from the butter. Pour the melted butter into the dry ingredients. Stir with a fork to combine, then use your hands to mix until no dry spots remain.
Step 3Press the dough evenly into the pan. Prick all over with a fork. Sprinkle the nuts and rosemary leaves on top, shake into a single layer, then press firmly into the dough until the nuts’ sides are surrounded by dough. (This is important, otherwise the nuts won’t adhere.) Sprinkle evenly with 1 teaspoon sugar and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.
Step 4Bake until golden brown (including in the center) and the edges start to pull away from the sides, 35 to 40 minutes.
Step 5Let cool completely, then gently break up with your hands into jagged pieces. Nuts along the edge may fall out. (Those are yours to eat.) The shortbread will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.