Friday, 17 February 2012

Dan Lepard's Cheese and Black Pepper Buttons

Idling around this morning, trying to decide what bread recipe to bake on Sunday, I happened across this recipe in my copy of Short and Sweet.  Given that it's a Dan Lepard recipe and I unashamedly worship at the alter of his culinary genius (it's about the eighth Lepard recipe I've tried in the course of this blog - I aspire to many more before the year ends in September), I knew it would be a winner.

Mmmm....cheese.  Only 100g mind you!
Cheese and butter with a hint of garlic and lashings of black pepper.  A little flour to bind it all together.  Pretty much a savoury version of shortbread.  And the most cheesy baked product I've ever tasted.  Forget your cheese straws and cheese scones.  These are now my number one savoury snack.

I am ashamed to say, that I've eaten rather a lot of these little beauties.  They are moreish to the point of being addictive.  In fact, I'm sure I read somewhere that there are chemicals in cheese that can make it as addictive as a Class A narcotic.  If so, these biscuits are a prime example of that manifestation.

Oddly shaped balls...
The flavour is really intense.  I did wonder at first why they were so small.  Now I know.  There's only so much cheese taste you can take in one hit without feeling ever so slightly queasy.  But it didn't stop me from coming back for seconds.  And thirds...

They're great on their own and would be the perfect addition to any buffet table.  They'd make a good accompaniment to soup or other starters and light snacks (my mind is devoid of examples right now).

Lepard points out that parmesan and Cheddar or Double Gloucester (which I used) are only optional and to try different flavour combinations.  I worry that I'd be disappointed if I started to play with the cheese element.  But I can see these being great flavoured with other things.  I'm thinking bashed up crispy pancetta or maybe some poppy or black onion seeds.  I'll have fun experimenting!

Rustic buttons
Making them is simplicity in itself.  You beat the soft butter with the seasoning, mix in the cheese and flour and work into a soft dough.  Refrigerate for 30 mins and then mould into tiny balls, flatten them with your hand for the rustic look or a spatula to get a nice even finish.  I tried both methods but got bored having to peel them back off of the spatula, so rustic won the day.

I'm sure as an alternative you could roll out the dough and stamp nice, even circles but the re-rolling required to use up all the dough would probably end with it being really soft and sticky, what with the ludicrously high fat content from all the cheese and butter.

Luckily, the recipe has also been previously published in the Guardian so you can find it here.  I highly recommend trying these out.  You won't be disappointed.  Just make sure you exercise more self restraint than I did.

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