Set out these buttery savory herb shortbread crackers at the cocktail hour for an elegant alternative to chips. I’ve included a pretty customizable menu and place cards to help you set the theme for a brunch or afternoon tea.
We’re trying something new and fun today, so in addition to my recipe, I’m including downloadable printables for your next spring brunch or gathering. The menu is customizable so you can print them out with your own fabulous line up. Place cards, too! You’ll need Adobe Acrobat Reader (it’s free) to fill in your menu and print. Instructions below.
These herby shortbread crackers are based on my Asiago Lemon Thyme Shortbread which was published way back in 2011 ~ wow, has it been that long?? That was based on an Ina Garten recipe, and I’ve always loved the concept. Shortbread is one of my favorite things to eat, and granted I mostly go the sweet route, but every now and then I crave these cheesy biscuits, they go great with a chilled glass of wine.
I used rosemary from the overgrown bush just outside my front door, it thrives in the California heat and provides me with an endless supply. The stalks are long and sturdy enough to use as skewers for my Rosemary Chicken Skewers, but for this savory shortbread recipe I snip the tender tips. I process them right into the dough which gets infused with that wonderful piney flavor.
You can have endless fun with this concept. Use thyme or sage instead of rosemary (be sure it’s fresh!) and roll more fresh herbs right onto the top of your dough before cutting. The laminated herbs will cook right into the crackers.
These savory shortbread crackers are substantial enough to be served on their own so they make a super easy starter
Tips for making savory herb shortbread ~
- Butter should be at room temperature, I leave it out overnight.
- Measure your flour using the fluff, scoop, and level method for accuracy.
- Use fresh rosemary, dried won’t be nearly as fragrant. Remove the leaves from the stems and give them an initial chop before adding to the processor.
- Process the dough in your food processor just until it comes together in a lump. This should happen in 30 seconds to a minute. You can do this by hand, just be sure to get the dough thoroughly mixed and all the flour hydrated by the butter so it isn’t crumbly.
- Depending on the moisture content of your butter and cheese, you may need to add a tiny bit of water to your dough to bring it together. Start with 1/2 tsp and go from there.
- If you are going to laminate fresh herbs on your crackers I found that some worked better than others. Parsley, sage, lavender, and thyme worked well for me. Parsley kept its green color the best of all.
- I bake my shortbread so that it has a soft texture, like a shortbread cookie. If you’d prefer a crisper texture, cut them a little thinner and bake a little longer.
Rosemary Parmesan Shortbread
- 1 1/4 cups flour
- 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- 2 Tbsp finely minced rosemary leaves plus extra whole leaves for the tops of the crackers (If you like you can mince the rosemary right in the food processor first)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
- 1 stick 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- extra whole leaf herbs for laminating onto the dough
- Put the flour, cheese, rosemary, salt and pepper into the bowl of a food processor. Add the chunks of soft butter and pulse about 30 times to combine into a crumbly mixture. The process until the dough comes together, this should not take longer than 30 seconds to a minute. If the dough does not come together, add a tiny bit of water to the bowl, start with 1/2 tsp, and process again.
- Turn the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap and bring together into a smooth flat disk, just like you do with pie crust dough. The dough should be smooth and uniform, without dry floury parts. Knead it with your hands if necessary. Wrap the disk in the plastic and refrigerate for an hour.
- Preheat the oven to 350F
- Roll out the dough to about 1/4 to 1/8 thickness. I do this between two sheets of waxed paper and it works like a charm, no sticking. If you want to laminate herbs onto the surface of the dough, lay them out onto the dough, leaving space between. Put the waxed paper back over the top and lightly roll with your rolling pin to press the herbs right into the dough. Use a 2 inch round cookie cutter to cut out your circles. Remove the dough to a baking sheet. Reform the leftover dough, roll and repeat until all the dough is used.
- Bake the shortbread for 10-15 minutes, until they are just starting to turn pale golden around the edges. Cool for a few minutes on the pan, then remove to a rack. The shortbread will firm up as it cools.
- Make it ahead ~ you can make the crackers up to a couple of days ahead of time, or freeze the dough.
- Make it easy ~ if you don't care about the herbs laminated on top of the crackers you can roll the dough into a log and slice and bake.
- Make it pretty ~ use edible flowers in place of the herbs ~ try spicy marigold petals.
- Make it with different herbs ~ I think thyme or sage would be fabulous.
- Make it with different cheese ~ other hard aged Italian cheeses like Asiago, Romano, or Grana Padano would work too.
The menu pdf file is fillable with your own text if you open it using Adobe Reader (see instructions below), while the place-cards simply have a blank space for you to fill in your guest’s names by hand. Of course you could also print out a blank menu and fill it in by hand, as well, if you were just going to display one copy on a counter or a buffet, for example.
Simply click on the links below to download your free copy of either the printable menus or place-cards!
To use the fillable option on the menus, follow these steps:
- Download Adobe Reader if you don’t already have it (it’s free.)
- Open the menu file in Adobe Reader, and fill in the text boxes with your menu items.
- To print either file, make sure your print settings are set to “scale” at 100%.
- Cut out your menus or place-cards along the lines indicated at the corners using scissors or a paper-cutter.
Happy spring entertaining!