Friday, December 11, 2009

Stilton Shortbread

So, Cheesemas approaches. Until this year, I’d never started off the baking season with anything savory, but this time around it’s different. I have a lot of cheese on hand, and lately, I’ve been eyeing a very veiny block of stilton every time I open the fridge. I love stilton, especially at the Mann Center in June – there’s nothing better than hearing the Philadelphia Orchestra live while crunching down on a huge baguette shmeared with chutney and Colston Bassett.

Our friend Emma, a Scottish scientist, used to meet us there, arriving with a blanket under one arm and a backpack full of smelly cheese slung over her shoulder. (The mosquitoes always swarmed the other direction.) Then Emma took off to California to eat oranges and gab in a lab, leaving us stilton-less. To commemorate those days, Dr. E. sent me a stinking mass of cheese for my birthday a few weeks ago. There’s no better birthday present than stilton.

Today, I put on some Ravi Shankar and began working my own lab of sorts, baking away in the blue kitchen. I think everyone in Fishtown knows I baked stilton shortbread today because the house is whiffy…wonderfully so. Even the dog is roaming in a stupor.

I’m going to take these stiltony biscuits to a potluck tonight, and instead of breaking out the port (which I’d do at home), I’m taking along of jar of onion-fig jam that I’ve been saving for just the right occasion. Truth is, this Mt. Vikos onion-fig jam may be better than my shortbread. It’s so good, my brother still remembers when I served him some two years ago, and he asks for it by name. I was planning to save this jar for him, but alas, the stilton beckons, and these shortbready biscuits need some sort of sweet side. They’re very heady.

A stiltony shout-out to Lauren T., of the blog Sensuous Particulars, who gave me the idea to make blue cheese shortbread in the first place. She sent me a Washington Post recipe for walnut-blue cheese cookies; I took a detour into Epicurious because I only had pecans on hand, and friends, the wind is a sourpuss today, and I didn’t want to walk to the store. Instead, I stayed home and rocked some sitar’n stilton. What could be more…cheesemasy?

Stilton Shortbread

1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 3/4 cups flour
1 cup Stilton, crumbled
1/4 cup ground pecans (or walnuts)

parchment paper

Combine butter, sugar, and salt -- I used a mixer. Add stilton and ground pecans, then mix dough with your hands until the mixture holds together, loosely. It will be dry, the consistency of damp ashes. Mold the dough it into two logs, the thickness of your wrists. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour. Dance around the house to stay warm, then preheat the oven to 325. Cut parchment paper to fit a large cookie sheet, then slice the logs into quarter-inch rounds. Bake about 20 minutes. Cool before serving with port, figs, dark lipstick.

Note: Mt. Vikos Fig-Onion Jam is available at Quince Fine Foods, and at Downtown Cheese in Reading Terminal Market.


  1. Sounds spectacular! I hope you have a great time at the potluck!

  2. Hmm, you could roll the cheesy log in poppy seeds prior to cooling and slicing - pretty gourmet gift!

  3. Love your words as always, and thanks for the shout-out! I'm thrilled to see my internet meanders come to such delicious fruition.