Spicy Cheddar Shortbread is a hit at our holiday gatherings and so easy to prepare! You can freeze the logs of uncooked dough for up to a couple of months and you can also keep a log in the fridge for about a week and just slice off as many cookies as you are going to need for the evening, so you can always have a fresh batch of shortbread for your guests.
Using either a hand mixer or your stand mixer, cream together the butter, salt, pepper, paprika and cayenne if you are using it. Now, grab a wooden spoon and start mixing in the cheese and flour a bit at a time until just combined. Use your hands to work the dough until it sticks together, put half of it on a sheet of parchment paper and press it into a log shape, probably about an inch or an inch-and-a-half in diameter. I like to make a square-shaped log because, frankly, it’s easier and the cookies look cute.
Wrap it up in the parchment and put it in the fridge for about 20 minutes. You can also freeze it (I always freeze half to use later) by wrapping the log in a double layer of plastic wrap and then covering that in foil.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, put the rack in the top third of the oven and line a cookie sheet with parchment. Remove your cookie log from the fridge and carefully slice into 1/4” to 1/8” slices and arrange on the cookie sheet. Brush the tops with some beaten egg white, sprinkle with a touch of course salt and press a pecan into the centre of each cookie.
Bake until lightly browned around the edges, about 15 minutes.
Cool on the baking sheets for five minutes before removing them to a wire rack to cool completely. If you store them in a tightly covered container in the fridge and just take them out an hour before serving, they will keep for weeks.
**Salt - I used fleur de sel but kosher works fine too.