Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Cheese and Nigella Seed Biscuits

I'm not one for throwing formal cocktail parties, but I have been known to open a bottle of champagne when friends drop by.

Good company + good bubbles + a plate of these savoury biscuits = my kind of cocktail party.

Cheese and Nigella Seed Biscuits
from Belinda Jeffrey's Mix & Bake
Makes 80

300g plain flour
50g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (I used Parmigiana-Reggiano)
200g grated good-quality tasty or cheddar cheese (I used Mersey Valley Peppercorn)
250g cold unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
1 1/2- 2 tablespoons lemon juice, strained
Nigella seeds or black or white sesame seeds, for sprinkling

Put the flours, salt and chilli flakes into food processor and whiz them so they are well combined. Add the parmesan and cheddar and blend together until the cheeses are thoroughly mixed in. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Drizzle in the lemon juice and let the processor run until a ball of dough forms around the blade.

Lay a large sheet of foil on a bench and cover it with a sheet of baking paper. Knead half the dough lightly to bring it into a ball, then shape it into a log about the diameter of  2.5cms. Sit the log along one side of the baking paper and roll it up in the paper. Next, roll it in the foil. Twist the ends tightly in opposite directions so you end up with something that looks like a very long bonbon. Do the same with the remaining piece of dough. (Or if you would rather, you can divide the mixture into thirds or quarter and make smaller rolls to freeze.) If you are baking the biscuits the same day, chill the logs for 2-3 hours in the fridge until they are firm enough to slice. Or at this stage you can freeze the logs until you need them (they keep well in the freezer for about 5 weeks; just defrost them in the fridge before slicing them).

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C. Cut the logs into 5mm thick slides and put them onto baking trays lined with baking paper. Press some nigella or sesame seeds, if using, on top.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the biscuits are golden. Remove them from oven and leave them on the trays for 1 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

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