Thursday, December 19, 2013

Rosemary Hazelnut Cheese Shortbread Crackers

As I've made quite clear, I've got nothing against a sweet, buttery cookie. But this time of year, the sweets, they stack up. Sometimes when you head to a party, you want to bring a nibble that's a bit more savory. Like these cheese crackers.

For some reason, people seem to think it's hard to make crackers. But these are really just a riff on shortbread — a whole lot of butter and cheese, bound with flour and whatever additions or flavorings you want. I went with some front-yard rosemary and leftover Oregon hazelnuts, but the options are endless (walnuts, paprika, blue cheese, etc.). I brought them to a past-my-bedtime party (on a schoolnight!) last night, nicely packaged in a repurposed sauerkraut jar, where they were promptly demolished. Because clearly, it is cracker season.

Rosemary Hazelnut Cheese Shortbread Crackers

adapted, roughly, from Garde Manger: The Art and Craft of the Cold Kitchen
yields ~4 dozen small crackers, though yield will vary depending upon size

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
8 ounces grated cheese (I used a mix of sharp cheddar, aged gouda, and a wee bit of Romano)
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon coarse salt (or less, if your cheese is particularly salty)
1 cup all-purpose flour
scant 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts

In a large bowl or a stand mixer, beat together the butter, cheese and rosemary until well combined (using a paddle attachment or a wooden spoon). Add the salt and flour, mix well, then add the nuts. Mix until it comes together into a smooth dough (you can sprinkle in a bit of water if needed — mine didn't).

Roll the dough into two logs (of the diameter you favor for crackers — I went with ~ 1 1/2-inch), and wrap in parchment or plastic. Chill in the refrigerator until firm, at least one hour (and overnight is fine too, if it works better).

When you're ready to bake, preheat your oven to 325° Fahrenheit. Line two baking sheets with parchment, or grease them well. With a sharp knife, slice into thin rounds (~1/4-inch), and place on the cookie sheet with a bit of space between (they shouldn't spread that much). Bake until lightly golden on the edges, ~15-20 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool fully, then store in an airtight container until party time.


  1. Yes! I really love the idea of mixing up traditional shortbread with cheese & herbs. Still super festive, but way less sugar shock. :)

  2. Southerners call these cheese coins or cheese straws depending on the shape. They are a party staple! I also like to mix a little sweet and savory a la mildly sweet rosemary shortbread or my apple tart with sharp cheese short crust. These crackers look like they would be really tasty with an abbey style beer!