My sister is a devout hater of cheese. I’ve tried to persuade her. I’ve tried to trick her. But she can smell vacuum-sealed parmesan even when it’s in the next building. I developed these savoury no-cheese biscuits for her hen’s party last week.
The party was set to be six hours of champagne and canapés for twenty women. That’s a lot of canapés. I soon ran out of ideas for the bases. All I could think about were cheese biscuits, precisely because they were the pink elephants in the room: the only biscuit that I knew my sister really wouldn’t like. But because I couldn’t think of anything else, I figured that I’d make them anyway, only without the cheese.
A cheese biscuit without cheese is just salty shortbread, but add garlic and smoked sweet paprika and it all gets a bit more interesting. Everyone at the party assumed that the biscuits were made from cheese, but my sister could smell that they weren’t. She loved them. “They really just melt in your mouth,’ she said. Everyone broke into the sort of hysterical laughter that only follows too much champagne and a suggestive joke.
I took a great photograph of my sister with the first batch of these biscuits. Unfortunately, because of the novelty cookie cutters that I used, the photograph is not fit for publishing. Below is a less, umm… anatomical, version.
Garlic and paprika shortbread
- 1 cup butter
- 2 cups flour
- 1.5 teaspoons salt
- 1 large clove of garlic (5 grams) crushed
- 1 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
- 1 egg
- black and white sesame seeds
Put all ingredients, except the egg and the sesame seeds, into a food processor and pulse to combine. The mixture should look crumbly but hold together. Add a spoonful of milk if the dough does not hold together when compressed. Roll the dough out to a half centimetre thickness. Cut the shortbread using cookie cutters or slice into rectangles. Place on lined baking trays.
Beat the egg with a little water and brush over the biscuits. Sprinkle one end of each biscuit with white sesame seeds and the other with black seeds, leaving a gap in the middle.
Bake in a preheated 170°C oven for 15-18 minutes or until very slightly brown. Allow to cool on the trays for two minutes before transferring to a wire rack.