Parmesan Shortbread

Shortbread is a traditional Scottish dessert with an impressive history that spans nine centuries. With only three commonly used ingredients, shortbread is easy to make and customize with an extra ingredient of your choice. Mary, Queen of Scots, was famously fond of shortbread, especially with caraway added to the recipe. The term “short” is used with an old meaning of the word that describes the texture as “crumbly.” While some recipes call for sugar in order to sweeten the biscuit (or “cookie,” if you are in the U.S.), this recipe uses Parmesan cheese to create a savory taste.


  • 150 g (5½ oz.) plain flour
  • 75 g (2¾ oz.) Parmesan (or similar vegetarian hard cheese), grated
  • 100 g (3½ oz.) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 free-range egg yolk


  • Mix all ingredients together — using bowl and spoon, electric mixer, or food processor — until golden dough begins to form a clump.
  • Turn dough out onto a surface and knead for about 30 seconds until smooth. Then divide into two.
  • Take first half and, using your hands, roll into cylinder as uniformly as possible (without stressing over it), about 3 cm (1¼ in.) diameter. Make sure ends are flat, so cylinder resembles a roll of coins. Then wrap in a piece of cling film, twisting cling film at ends like a Christmas cracker, and put roll in fridge. Then proceed the same way with remaining half of dough.
  • Preheat the oven to 180 C (375 F/Gas 4) while dough rests in fridge for about 45 minutes, after which time you should be able to cut it into thick slices easily. Aim for cookies of about 1 cm. Think “fat pound coins” or similar.
  • Arrange cookies on baking sheet lined with baking parchment and put in oven for 15-20 minutes.
  • Remove from oven when cookies just begin to turn pale gold at edges. Then, leave to cool (if you can!) before eating.

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