A friend shared this recipe for cranberry-pecan cheese wafers that she makes during the holiday season. It sparked my interest for two reasons: one, it’s easy to adapt to grain-free and two, there are no limits to the flavor profiles that can be created with the base cheddar pecan shortbread recipe. The cranberries and cayenne pepper can easily be exchanged to suit ones tastes, and even the type of cheese and nuts can be switched to something else. Smoked Gouda and walnuts, maybe, or Parmesan and pistachios. Here are some of my suggestions:
• Dried cherries, orange zest, ground fennel seed
• Dried cranberries, smoked paprika, ground chipotle powder
• Sultanas, ground coriander seed, mild curry powder
• Dried apricots, lemon zest, cardamom
• Cognac infused raisins, crushed mustard seeds, black pepper
• Dried apples, allspice, cayenne pepper
• Dried blueberries, lemon zest, ground lavender buds
• Salt cured olives, thyme, rosemary
I made batches of the first two and both turned out great. I used 1 Tbs of orange zest and 1/2 tsp of whole fennel seeds ground in a mortar and pestle with the dried cherries and 1 tsp smoked paprika and 1/2 tsp chipotle powder with the dried cranberries. The trick is to not overwhelm the cheddar and fruit flavors with spice, so use a little more of milder flavors and a little less of stronger flavors. I also don’t recommend using more than two different spices or spice blends.
I halved the recipe from the original since I don’t see this as primarily a holiday recipe, but as an alternative to cookies for any occasion. They’re not extremely low carb due to the dried fruit, but much lower than regular cookies and perfect for someone who likes salty and sweet treats. The dough needs to chill a good 6-8 hours to firm up, so it’s best to plan that down time in advance. I made the dough the night before and baked it the next morning. Let the wafers cool completely before eating; the flavors are even more developed the day after baking.
2 cups almond flour
2 cups sharp or extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup toasted pecans, chopped
3/4 cup dried fruit, chopped
1 Tbs chia seed or flaxseed meal
3/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
3/4 tsp salt
Soak the dried fruit in several cups of boiling water for 10-15 minutes. Drain the fruit and dry it off as much as possible with paper towels. Dice small, if necessary. In a stand mixer, blend together butter, cheese, chia or flax seed meal, salt, and selected spices until well combined. Add almond flour gradually until combined. Stir in dried fruit and chopped nuts. Divide the dough in half, roll into equal sized logs, and wrap in plastic wrap. Seal and chill in the refrigerator for at least 6-8 hours and up to 3 days. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°F and prepare baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Slice rolls of dough into 1/4 inch thick slices and place on prepared baking sheets, leaving at least an inch between waters to allow them room to spread out during baking. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until an even golden brown. Cooking times will vary based on the ingredients used. Let cool fully for serving or covering for storage.