My parents are, not shockingly, part of a few different wine groups, and one of them puts on a Champagne tasting event every year around Valentine’s Day. The price of admission is a bottle of vintage Champagne and an appetizer to pair with it. And you better believe that every single year I make sure that my names gets on that list too. I have gone for 4 or 5 years in a row now and the very first year I went I made these shortbreads. And then that was kind of it. So many people asked me for the recipe, what they were called, did I really make them, that now I have to bring these every single year. Which is really not too high a price of admission to an event where you get to taste 20+ different vintage champagnes.
So why do these go so well with Champagne? They are savory shortbreads but there is still some sugar in there so there is definitely a little note of sweetness to them, which finds a really nice mirror in the light sweetness of the Champagne. Plus these have a heat to them that is cut really nicely by the Champagne. Next there is the Parmesan, which has a really nice nuttiness to it that is a lovely match for the more yeasty Champagnes of the bunch. And finally, so none of the ingredients feel left out here, there is the salt, which is slightly reminiscent of the bright brininess of the caviar and oysters that are such classic pairings to Champagne.
- 1 cup (2 sticks) of unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1 cup finely grated Parmesan
- 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
A note before you start, the dough for this needs to chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours
In a mixer beat the butter on low spread for 1-2 minutes until it is smooth and light. Then add in the powdered sugar, pepper and kosher salt and increase the speed to medium and cream together for 3-4 minutes until everything is light and fluffy and well incorporated. Slow the speed down to low and add in the flour and Parmesan cheese and mix until the dough just comes together.
Wrap the dough in plastic and flatten as best you can into a rectangle. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Or this can be done overnight or, even better, up to 5 days in advance. Either way whenever you are ready for it, it needs to sit out at room temperature for 30 minutes before you can work with it.
Preheat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the center and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Meanwhile, with a mortar and pestle, break down the salt and chili flakes.
Unwrap the dough and roll it out on a lightly floured surface to an 8 x 10 rectangle that is about ¼ inch thick. Now its totally OK if your shape is a little wonky, the shortbreads will taste amazing no matter what shape they are in. But I am kind of a weirdo and a perfectionist so I use a ruler (yes, a ruler) to trim the edges so they are straight and perfect and then re-roll the trimmed dough and repeat so everything has lovely straight edges. But whether you are going to be as OCD about it as me or not you next want to cut the dough horizontally into fourths and then vertically into fourths so that you get the small little cookies.
Arrange the shortbreads on your prepared baking sheet, about an inch apart and brush the tops with a little bit of olive oil. Then sprinkle the tops with your sea salt and chili flake mixture and bake for 18-20 minutes, rotating halfway through. They are done when they are just slightly brown on the edges and you can see the dark golden flecks of the cheese inside the dough. These cookies will keep in an airtight container for about 2 day (if they last that long).
Adapted from Bon Appetit