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Rosemary, cheese and cayenne shortbreads

Try these delicious savoury snacks, perfect to enjoy with a drink over the festive period!

Rosemary is an energising tonic, useful to boost recovery after illness or periods of low energy. Just the smell of a fresh leaf can really lift your spirits. Even inhaling the fresh leaf from a garden or window box will stimulate mental energy and the tea taken internally will much extend this effect.

Rosemary has traditionally been used to aid digestion, including bloating after heavy meals, so the festive break could be the perfect time to look at how to use rosemary to maximise your enjoyment of any celebration. There really isn’t much in these delicious savoury shortbreads, but try adding fresh leaves to soups, stews and sauces to allow the oils to infuse, or make a fresh tea to enjoy – just add a sprig of rosemary to a teapot or cafetiere of hot water, leave for 15 minutes, and sweeten with honey if you wish.

These biscuits can be made ahead – you can freeze the roll of dough up to 1 month ahead, and then just slice as many as you need from the frozen roll. The cooking time will be the same.

INGREDIENTS

 

  • 100g plain flour
  • 2 pinches cayenne pepper (or to taste)
  • 80g unsalted butter, cold and diced
  • 115g mature cheddar, grated
  • ½ tsp sea salt flakes
  • 2 sprigs rosemary, finely chopped

 

Makes 32 biscuits

METHOD

 

  1. Add the flour and cayenne to a food processor with a few grinds of black pepper, then pulse to blend.
  2. Tip in the butter and cheese, then blend until a dough comes together. It will look like breadcrumbs at first, but continue to pulse and it will quickly and magically form a smooth dough. Once you reach that point, stop. Don’t overwork it.
  3. Tip the dough onto your work surface and form into an evenly shaped sausage, about 4cm thick. Wrap in greaseproof paper (or reusable wax wrap) and chill for at least 1 hour until firm, or overnight.
  4. To bake the biscuits, preheat the oven to 180°C, gas mark 4 and line a baking tray with baking parchment. Slice the dough into 0.5cm discs and place at least 3cm apart on the tray. Sprinkle each biscuit with sea salt and a tiny pinch of rosemary, then gently press into the dough. Bake for 10-12 minutes. They should be just lightly golden on the edges.
  5. Let the biscuits cool on the baking tray for a few minutes. You can grate a little parmesan on top before they cool if you like.