There is nothing better to whet the appetite than a few sips of wine or a cocktail accompanied by the taste of fine cheese. I serve these buttery, rich snacks as an appetizer without any more cheese (they ARE that good on their own), but melon & cured meats -- yes please. This is also not a recipe to get creative with, meaning: don't add herbs or spices to enhance the flavor, or, nuts or seeds for added texture. Don't do it -- that's just missing the point: some things are best kept pure and simple -- Triple Creme Brie shortbread "cookies" are one of them -- trust me!
1/4 pound salted butter, at room temperature (1 stick)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly- & coarsely-ground peppercorn blend
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
~ Step 1. While the Brie is cold, using a serrated knife, trim the rind from the top, bottom and sides. Don't worry about any little bits of rind that might remain here and there -- they affect nothing.
~ Step 2. Cut the brie into wedges or chunks, cover it and set it aside to come to room temperature, along with the butter, about 1 hour. When the butter is very soft and ready to use, the cheese will be too.
Note: My Brie is on a plate under a small cheese dome -- the perfect instrument for bringing cheese to room temperature without drying it out. If you do not have one, place the plate in a zip lock bag.
~ Step 3. You can pass a little bit of the time by grinding the peppercorn blend. In my pepper mill, when set to "coarse grind", this is exactly 60 grinds of pepper (I have done this SO many times before I just know).
Note: I prefer a blend of white, green, pink and black peppercorns in this recipe (and, quite frankly, almost all recipes). For me, plain black pepper is too harsh, particularly in this recipe. Substitute at your own risk. Trust me!
~Step 4. Place the cheese wedges, butter, salt and pepper in the work bowl of a processor fitted with a steel blade. Blend until smooth and creamy, about 15 rapid on-off pulses followed by 15 seconds of constant blending. Add all of the flour, and once again, using a series of 15 rapid on-off pulses followed by 15 seconds of constant blending, thoroughly combine the mixture.
Refrigerate for 5-6 minutes and absolutely no longer than 10 minutes. Using the palms of your hands, pick each one up and form it into a rough-shaped cylinder.
Note: This dough will be very soft, but it will not stick to your hands -- it is very pleasant to work with.
~ Step 7. Transfer dough to a pastry board and quickly form into two 2"-round x 6"-long cylinders. Work quickly -- this should only take about 1 minute to form both. Place each cylinder on a piece of parchment paper and roll it up. Place seam side down on a large plate and refrigerate until well-chilled, at least 2 hours. There is no need to fold or secure the parchment paper.
~ Step 8. Line 2, 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pans with parchment paper. Place pans in the refrigerator to chill too. Working one cylinder of dough and one pan at a time, remove the dough from the refrigerator, unroll it and slice it into 12, 1/2" ovals. Place, well-apart, on chilled pan. Using a fork, decoratively prick the tops twice, in a criss-cross pattern.
When both pans are back in the refrigerator, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
~ Step 10. One pan at a time, bake on center rack of preheated oven for 16-18 minutes, or until "cookies" are just beginning to turn brown around the edges. The tops will not be brown. Remove from oven and using a thin spatula, immediately transfer shortbread to cooling rack to cool completely:
Special Equipment List: cutting board; serrated knife; food processor; spatula; pastry board; parchment paper; 2, 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pans; fork; cooling rack
Cook's Note: For another one of my favorite Brie appetizers, which pairs really well with this shortbread, click into Categories 1, 11, 17, 18, 20 or 21 to get my recipe for ~ Bejeweled Brie Torte (as Easy as it is Elegant!!!) ~. Read on:
In this recipe, the Brie is sliced into two discs. The "layers" are frosted with mascarpone cheese and then a combination of dried fruits (blueberries, cherries and cranberries) and nuts are pressed into the center and on the the sides.
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2014)