These are pretty enough to hold their own among holiday cookie assortments. Include these nonsweet, zingy biscuits and your friends who can't eat sweets will be appreciative year after year.
Make Ahead: The cookies can be stored between layers of wax paper in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. Baked cookies can be frozen for up to 1 month.
Servings: 2.5 cookies
- 3 cups flour, sifted
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
- 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 4 cups sharp cheddar cheese, at room temperature
- Pecan halves
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Have ready 2 large (ungreased) baking sheets.
Combine the flour, salt, baking powder and cayenne pepper to taste on a large sheet of wax paper.
Combine the butter and cheese until smooth in a large bowl, with not too many discernible shreds of cheese. (It's best to use your hands for this.) Add the flour mixture to form a dough; knead until it comes together and is a soft orange color. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface to a thickness of 1/4 inch. Use a 2 1/2-inch cookie cutter, preferably with serrated edges, to cut the dough into rounds, then gently press a pecan half into each one. Place the rounds on the baking sheets, spaced about 1/2 inch apart; the cookies do not spread much.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or just until golden. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
Adapted from "The Washington Cookbook" (Washington Opera, 1982).
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
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