This parmesan fennel shortbread is one of the few savory foods you will ever see on this site, but that should be an indicator of how freaking amazing these are! They're buttery, slightly sweet, and salty. And then there's the fennel... it adds a whole other element of flavor that makes you want to go back for more! They are super easy to make and fairly difficult to mess up (for one test batch I forgot to add to the parmesan, so after I packed it in the square pan, I had to take it out and mix the cheese in - they still came out perfectly though!). Make these shortbreads for an appetizer at a dinner party or just for an afternoon snack!
Ingredients you'll need to make this parmesan fennel shortbread:
- Unsalted Butter: You'll need two sticks of room temperature unsalted butter.
- Powdered Sugar: You'll need a very small amount of powdered sugar to give these savory cookies the perfect shortbread texture, but it does not make them very sweet.
- All-Purpose Flour: This recipe calls for the perfect amount of flour, enough to absorb the butter and prevent the shortbread from spreading too much!
- Salt: Since this is a savory recipe, you'll add a little more salt than you would for a sweet recipe.
- Pepper: Freshly ground pepper adds a great savory flavor.
- Parmesan: You'll need about one cup of freshly grated parmesan. Alternatively, you could use freshly grated romano.
- Fennel Seeds: You only need about one tablespoon of fennel seeds to grind up slightly and top each shortbread before they go in the oven.
- Flaky Sea Salt: Always add a generous sprinkling of flaky sea salt. My favorite is Maldon!
How do you make perfectly shaped shortbread?
- Press the dough into a square pan with a piece of parchment paper and a small measuring cup (as shown above). The dough is too sticky to touch, and you don't want to add more flour, so parchment paper is the perfect trick.
- Once the dough is packed in evenly, freeze it for about 30 minutes. Then, take the dough out and cut the block in half, and cut each section into 8 equally sized pieces. You'll end up with 16 perfect rectangular shortbreads!
- Bake a few at a time and keep the remainder in the freezer until ready to bake.
A few tips to make this shortbread:
- Beat the butter until smooth before adding in any other ingredient. This will ensure everything is incorporated evenly and you don't have big pieces of butter throughout your dough.
- Do not over-mix the dough once you add the flour! Over-mixing develops the gluten in the flour and will make your shortbread very tough.
- Freeze the dough for at least 30 minutes. If you are not baking all of the dough at once, be sure to keep them in the freezer until they are ready to be baked.
- To grind up the fennel seeds, I used a mortar and pestle.
Happy baking! xPrint
The perfect sweet, salty, and savory treat!
- 227g unsalted butter (room temp)
- 56g powdered sugar
- 300g all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp ground pepper
- 75g freshly grated parmesan
- 1 tbsp fennel seeds (slightly ground)
- flaky sea salt
- Line a 9-inch square pan with two pieces of parchment paper to create a sling on all sides for easy removal.
- Beat the butter until completely smooth. Add the powdered sugar and beat until fully combined.
- Then, add the flour, salt, pepper, and parmesan and mix until fully combined, but do not over-mix!
- Transfer dough to the prepared pan and pack in using a piece of parchment paper and the back of a measuring cup (as shown in the pictures above). Once the dough is evenly packed in, place in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.
- Toward the end of the freeze time, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Take the dough out of the pan and cut the block in half, and cut each section into 8 equally sized pieces (a little over 1 inch per piece).
- Place the shortbread on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper about one inch apart. Sprinkle fennel seeds on top of each and bake for 15-18 minutes or until slightly golden around the edges.
- Let shortbread cool on a wire rack. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt and enjoy!