I’m working on my repertoire of savory “cookies” and crackers for a cocktail party that I’m going to cook for in a couple of months. I always fantasize that I am going to make the crackers in addition to the other dishes and at the last minute, I give up and buy them. This time, I’m experimenting way ahead of time, trying to determine not only which will taste great but which can be made in advance, which travel well, and so on. This particular version of a cheese wafer incorporates beautiful blue poppy seeds that I received for Christmas.
The recipe comes from Ottolenghi The Cookbook and was written in metric. I did convert the measurements but then thought it best to weigh the ingredients as written, which I find effective in baking, especially when it comes to measuring flour and grated cheese. As it was, my mixture seemed drier than the original was described so I added a few drops of cold water to get the dough to congeal. The description of the “biscuits” in the book suggested, “They are more addictive than a fine Bordeaux. Beware!” Absolutely right. I’m not sure these would last between my kitchen and a party.
The dough is formed into a log, refrigerated, brushed with a beaten egg, rolled in poppy seeds and refrigerated again. Sliced thin (I sliced one batch at 1/8 inch and the other at ¼ inch. Both were good. I rather liked the thin ones but they might not store as well), and then baked until golden. These are very cheesy. The shortness of the wafer contrasted well with the crunch of the poppy seeds.
Parmesan Cheese Wafers with Poppy Seeds adapted from Ottolenghi The Cookbook
1½ c all-purpose flour (210g)
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp paprika
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper (fine)
A pinch of salt
¾ c unsalted butter at room temperature (165g)
4 loose cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese (165g)
A few drops of cold water if needed
Flour (for forming the logs)
1 egg, lightly beaten
Sift the dry ingredients together and set aside. Cream the butter and cheese together, using an electric mixer. Add the sifted dry ingredients and combine into soft dough. Add a couple of drops of cold water if the dough isn’t coming together.
Divide the dough into thirds and roll each piece into a cylindrical log about 1¼ -1½ inch in diameter. Dust your hands and the dough with flour if necessary. Wrap each log well and refrigerate it for 30 minutes until firm.
Unwrap the logs, brush them liberally with the beaten egg and roll them in poppy seeds. Wrap them carefully and refrigerate for another ½ hour to an hour. Or freeze them for another day.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice the logs into thin disks, 1/8 inch thick or up to ¼ inch thick, as you prefer. Bake for 12 minutes (thicker disks may a couple minutes longer) until golden. Remove to a rack to cool. Store in an airtight container.
Makes about 3 dozen.