Gruyère Cheese Is The Key To Paul Hollywood's Savory Cookies

Practically everyone has tried a savory biscuit or even a savory scone, but have you ever encountered a savory cookie? They may not be commonplace, but acclimating to the idea is easier than you might think. Baker and "Great British Bake Off" judge Paul Hollywood demonstrates just how effortless savory cookies can be through his simple Gruyère cookie recipe, which he recommends pairing with a glass of Champagne.

Hollywood, according to his website, first encountered Gruyère cookies in the Alps. This is no surprise, considering the cheese originates from the Gruyère region of Switzerland, just north of the Swiss Alps. Gruyère cheese is one of many Alpine varieties, a cheese group classified by its elastic texture and melt-ability — hence why Alpine cheese makes for great fondue. Emmental, Comté, and Swiss cheese are among others. Used inside a cookie, Gruyère cheese imparts a slightly nutty flavor and light saltiness. The cheese isn't too strong but maintains a distinctive taste, making it a good choice for a cookie with a delicate flavor.

Gruyère cheese pairs well with other savory elements

A Gruyère cookie — or "biscuit," as Hollywood might call it in true British fashion — is simple and puts cheese in the spotlight. Hollywood makes his Gruyère cookies in the style of shortbread, a crumbly cookie with a higher butter-to-flour ratio than your typical cookie recipe. Flour, shredded Gruyère cheese, and butter make up the complete cookie, which Hollywood seasons with freshly ground black pepper. This is an acute choice that enhances the cookie's earthiness, but other savory accompaniments can bring even more palatable complexity to the recipe.

Starting with a simple addition, herbs are a bright pairing for the creamy cheese. Small amounts of aromatic thyme in the dough will make the cookie woody and herbaceous, and fresh sprigs make for a beautiful garnish. Freshly ground garlic in the cookie will draw it deeper into savory territory, but the combination of garlic and cheese never fails. Alternatively, adding nuts like pecans will complement the cheese's inherent nuttiness and give the cookie texture.

Gruyère cookies can become even more hardy with the addition of meats. Cubed ham can give them a biscuit-like quality, while crumbled bacon is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. One thing's certain: Savory cookies are just as customizable as their sweet counterparts.