Fresh goat cheese manages to be both mild and distinctive. It’s a team player. In creating these cookies, I took advantage of the cheese’s affinity for herbs and spices — there’s sea salt, cracked pepper and snipped chives in the dough. The dough has no leavening, yet it has the look and even the feel of biscuit dough. Once baked, the tender cookies have layers, just as there are in the best biscuits.
I leave it to you to enjoy these with cheese’s other best friend: wine. The cookies are nice with champagne or white wine as an aperitif. Alternatively, they’re great alongside soup.
A word on the cheese and chives: The best cheese for these cookies is a soft, mashable fresh goat cheese, often sold under its French name, chèvre. Chives are my first choice, but if you can’t find them, you can use the pale green parts of slender scallions or even the scallions themselves.
- 1 stick (8 tablespoons; 4 ounces; 113 grams) unsalted butter, cut into chunks, at room temperature
- 3 Ounces (1⁄3 cup packed; 85 grams) soft fresh goat cheese
- 1/2 Teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/2 Teaspoon cracked or coarsely ground pepper (black or white)
- 2 Tablespoons finely cut fresh chives or minced scallion greens or scallions
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 1 Teaspoon honey
- 1 1/4 Cup (170 grams) all-purpose flour
Working with a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter, cheese, salt, pepper and chives together on medium-low speed until light and well blended, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and honey and beat for 2 minutes. Liquid will pool on the bottom of the bowl — it’s not pretty, but it’s okay.
Turn off the mixer, add the flour all at once and pulse to start incorporating it. Then mix on low speed only until the flour disappears and the dough comes together. If you have some dry ingredients on the bottom of the bowl, stir them in with a flexible spatula.
Turn the dough out onto a work surface, gather it together and press it into a disk.
Place the disk between pieces of parchment paper and roll 1/4 inch thick. Keeping the dough between paper, slide it onto a baking sheet and freeze for at least 1 hour.
Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Have a 11/4-inch-diameter cookie cutter at hand.
Peel away the parchment paper from both sides of the dough and return it to one sheet. Cut out as many cookies as you can and place them on the lined baking sheet, leaving at least an inch between them. (If the dough gets soft as you’re cutting, stop and put it and the already cut cookies in the freezer to firm briefly.) Gather the scraps together, flatten them into a disk, re-roll 1/4 inch thick and freeze.
Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, or until the cookies are browned on the bottom, lightly golden and firm to the touch on top. As the cookies bake, you’ll see butter bubbling around the tops and edges — it will settle into the cookies as they cool. Transfer the baking sheet to a rack and allow the cookies to rest for at least 5 minutes before serving, or let them cool completely.
Cut and bake the scraps, making sure the baking sheet is cool.
Playing Around: I usually use freshly ground white Penja pepper (from Cameroon), which is fairly mild, but you might want to try Sarawak white peppercorns (from Borneo), which have more kick, piment d’Espelette (ground red pepper from the Pays Basque region in southwestern France), a sweeter red pepper like Turkish Aleppo or Urfa Biber, or chili powder. Or go for a spice like ground cumin, just go light. Instead of the chives or scallions, try minced fresh parsley or parsley and cilantro, fresh thyme leaves (rub them between your fingers to bring out their flavor) or chopped fresh lemon verbena — all so nice with goat cheese.
These cookies lend themselves to being made into baby bites. Use a 3/4-inch- diameter cookie cutter and bake them for just 12 to 13 minutes. You’ll get more than 100 cookies, a boon for cocktail parties.
Storing: The rolled-out dough can be wrapped airtight and frozen for up to 2 months; cut and bake the cookies directly from the freezer. The baked cookies are best served within hours. If you keep them overnight, warm them in a 350-degree-F oven for a few minutes before serving.