Of all the nibbles I have offered to my guests over the years, this one, I think, has been the most asked-for recipe. These, my dear readers, are the cheesiest, lightest, most gloriously flavorsome tiny cocktail savories that I have ever met! If you love cheese, please, I urge you to make these – they are like all the flavor and richness of cheese but in a light as air and gently spiced puff shape that you pop into your mouth, and… reach for another, washing it down with whatever you happen to have in your drink hand!
Alongside all their culinary virtues, they are also one of the most ridiculously easy things to make, so the reward to effort ratio nears infinity here – my favorite sort! The only excuse for not posting it here sooner has been the fact that these are usually gone before I have a chance to grab the camera and snap a few photos.
Well, today was different – I made them to take along to an informal dinner this evening, and so they were not ravenously devoured by the hungry horde before I could sneak the camera into the kitchen. So I did, and now I am posting about them, and then I will pack them into a box, put on a pretty top and head out into the winter night in anticipation of excellent food and a good time, and the rest is history. Or well, at least now I can just point all the “how do you make those cheese things…?” questions here, and you, too, can make your very own savory and spiced just as you like and oh-so-cheesy and fluffy and light cocktail snacks.
Disclaimer – when I say they are light, I mean it as in not a heavy mouthful of chewy stuff people – this is no diet food of any kind, nor will I make any health claims for it, other than the fact that they are likely still better for you than all their sugary cousins. So there.
What do you need to make your own?
(This will make about 1.5 baking sheets worth of cookies, depending on how thin you roll the dough and how small you cut them)
- 3-3.5dl plain flour
- 3-3.5dl grated cheeses of your choice – I tend to use a mix of about 2/3 random aged cheese such as strong cheddar or brännvinsost (a Swedish cheese made with spiced vodka of a local variety), and about 1/3 of some hard cheese such as Parmesan, Grana Padano and the like.
- 1/3 – 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 2/3 tsp salt
- 1/5 tsp cardamom seeds (not pods), pounded in a mortar, or a large pinch of ground cardamom. (Note: It can probably easily stand up to 1/2 a teaspoon of those really, if you like cardamom!) Or you can use a little of your favorite savory spice – fennel, rosemary, lavender, whatever floats your cheese!
- 1 egg yolk
- 125g unsalted butter (omit salt above if using salted), cut into small pieces
What you do:
- Preheat oven to 170C (fan) or 180C (regular). Line 2 baking sheets with baking parchment.
- Mix flour, salt, cardamom and baking powder. Add butter and cut in till it is the size of small peas.
- Mix in cheese and mix till fully incorporated. Add egg yolk and mix with spatula for a while, then stick your hands in and start rubbing the crumbly stuff together till it comes together into a dough.
- Wrap dough ball in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 10-15 min while you clear the counters from the mixing clutter.
- Flour your work surface and rolling pin thoroughly, roll the dough out to desired thickness (I go for about 5mm, approximately), and use a small cookie cutter to cut these out. Generally 2.5-5cm is a good size for these. The ones pictured were made on the small side. Space cookies about 1cm apart on the baking sheet.
- Place sheets in oven and bake for 5-10 minutes (depending on oven, thickness and size of puffs, use common sense people!) until puffed up and just barely beginning to turn golden. You do not want them to brown much at all.
- Cool on a rack, and place into a baking parchment lined airtight container (a tin box works really well). Puffs will keep for 3-5 days (if they survive to keep that long!) I have not tried to freeze them so I have no idea how well that would work, but I would hate for these to get soggy.
In my very biased view – and I am a cheese addict! – these work equally well with a glass of bubbly or a glass of a good red wine, or even a coffee if that is what you fancy. Me, I will have it all, thank you very much!