I’m posting these delicious cheddar shortbread bars in time for St. Patrick’s Day, because I think the parsley has a festive look of shamrocks. The frilly leaves bake right onto the top of the shortbread. Also, they are really good with a glass of beer! In fact, these crumbly cheese bites are a perfect pre-dinner snack or a side for any cocktail. They would also be perfect beside a bowl of Irish Stew or a Dublin Sausage Coddle. If you love a cheese straw think of these as the square version. The beautiful green garnish always impresses as well.
I use Kerrygold aged white cheddar and butter for a little hint of the Irish, but any sharp white cheddar will fit the bill. As I said, I like the ruffled flat parsley leaves on top and a bit in the dough for an herbaceous flavor. You could, however, easily use sage, picking the small leaves from the top of the stalks. I like to lightly mark the refrigerated dough into squares with a knife so I can center the leaves. Use you good, free fingers to smooth and press the leaves onto the dough. The egg white will help them adhere. A very light brush of whites on top of the leaves help keep them flat.
Savory Irish Cheddar Shortbread Bars
4 ounces aged Irish cheddar cheese
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold
1 Tablespoon Italian parsley leaves (plus more for decoration)
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon celery salt
¼ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
2 Tablespoons water
1 egg white
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with nonstick foil or parchment paper.
- Fit the shredding disk in a food processor and grate the cheese and butter together. Switch to the metal blade, add the parsley leaves, flour, baking powder, celery salt and salt and process until the mixture just starts to come together. Drizzle in the water. You want clinging crumbs that easily hold together when pinched between your fingers. This may take 3 to 4 minutes. Don’t let it come together in a ball. Dump into the prepared pan and press out into a flat layer with a smooth top. Use an offset spatula, the flat bottom of a measuring cup or a spatula to smooth the top to as even a layer as possible, being sure to press the edges flat. Refrigerate the dough for 15 minutes.
- Beat the egg white with a fork to loosen it up, then brush a thin layer over one half of the dough. Place the parsley leaves decoratively on top of the dough, so each leaf will be centered in a sliced square. Press and smooth the leaves down with your clean fingers. Brush the remaining dough with egg and continue with more leaves. Very lightly brush some more egg white over the leaves. Lightly sprinkle the top with kosher salt.
- Bake the shortbread for 25 minutes, until firm and the edges are browned. Cool completely in the pan, then cut into squares. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.