Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Cookie #69 - Wisconsin Cheddar Cheese with Hot Pepper Jelly

I was so excited about this cookie! 

Maybe not as excited as that guy, but still pretty excited. 
I was excited to make my first real savory cookie of this experiment. 
Yes, I've used savory ingredients before, but those cookies still had a sweetness to them. 
This cookie uses NO sugar.  I took a basic cookie recipe and subtracted all that was sweet. 
No sugar, no vanilla. 
I then started to stack savory flavors that I thought blended well together.  My thought was to mimic the flavors of a cheeseball (awesome recipe, by the way), so I used similar ingredients.  Knowing that green peppers and pimentos probably wouldnt' translated well into a cookie, I left them out. 
I also used almonds instead of pecans, but that's personal preference. 
Knowing that a plain cheese cookie might be just that, I remembered a recipe I had seen quite a while back that paired a cheese base with some hot pepper jelly
Totally not my thing, but I knew my husband would love it so I bought a jar. 
Now, I'm going to share something with you all and I don't want it to discourage you from making these cookies.  My husband LOVED them, I on the other hand didn't taste them and here's why:
The night I made these I was in the middle of making a few other cookies - all of them sweet.  My kitchen was filled with the delicious aroma of sugar and cinnamon, chocolate and vanilla.  It was heavenly. 
Then I put these puppies in the oven.
Suddenly the wonderful sweet smells I was enjoying her taken over by the smell of cheese and pepper.  It was an assault on my nose and my nose didn't like it.  My husband, on the other hand, thought they smelled delicious.  I took the offending cookies out of the oven and moved them immediately out of my kitchen to the dining room where the smell couldn't reach me anymore.  After they had cooled and I went to sandwich the hot pepper jelly between, I felt sick to my stomach.  I couldn't bring myself to eat one. 
The sense of smell is a very powerful thing - much more so than we give it credit for. 
I can promise you this - these cookies did get the Corey seal of approval.
Then again, he's like Mikey - he'll eat anything. 

Wisconsin Cheddar Cheese Cookies
with Hot Pepper Jelly

2 cups sharp cheddar cheese (for authenticity us Wisconsin cheddar)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (hey - use the real stuff, not the stuff in the green can, kay?)
1/2 cup butter (make sure it's softened, but not melted)
1 egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon white pepper (you can use black pepper, I chose white so you don't see the flecks in the dough)
1/8 tsp cayenne, if desired (kind of defeats the purpose of using white pepper, doesn't it?)
1 cup finely chopped nuts (I used almonds, but you can use pecans, walnuts, or whatever you like)
1/2 cup hot pepper jelly (room temperature, please. These cookies are soft, so don't try spreading cold jelly on them or they'll break)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Mix cheeses, nuts, butter and egg yolk together until well combined.  You really want an even mixture here, so please make sure your butter is softened.  If you forgot to soften it, just put it in the microwave for a few seconds to soften it up.  Usually, I cut it into cubes, place on a microwave safe plate and nuke for about 10 seconds.  Cutting it into cubes is essential. If you leave the stick whole, the outside will melt before the inside gets soft.
Next, sift together the flour and peppers.  Add to butter & cheese mixture until well combined.  Roll teaspoons full of dough into small balls and place 2" apart on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Press the balls flat using your fingers or the well floured bottom of a glass. 
Bake for about 13-15 minutes, or until golden brown.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Right before serving, sandwich a teaspoon of hot pepper jelly between two cookies.

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