The savory cookies are here to stay, and it may be upsetting this year’s cookie exchange. Salty cheeses and add-ins like anchovies, rosemary, and cacio e pepe spice naturally blend into the buttery, blank canvas of shortbread that truly embraces the antithesis of dessert. It’s become a model for a cookie that can be readily riffed on and tailored to your preferences. But, beyond sliceable logs of shortbread, there’s an universe of jammers, bars, and biscotti ripe for the limelight.
The author of Cookies, a forthcoming cookbook by Jesse Szewczyk, takes the savory cookies seriously, dedicating an entire chapter to the category. He turns the ’80s nostalgia of cream cheese and pepper jelly into thumbprints and pushes the bounds of the traditional Spanish coupling of Manchego cheese and quince paste to produce a batch of bite-size Linzers—perfect for any laid-back cocktail hour, picnic, or brunch set.
Szewczyk reimagines the dessert bar style with his parmesan cheesecake bars for an unashamedly cheesy taste without the sweetness. The traditional ingredients of cream cheese and sour cream are complemented by grated Parmesan and a punch of fresh garlic, while a simple pressed crust of nostalgic Ritz Crackers and warmed butter comes together in minutes.
“It tastes like a luxurious alfredo sauce or a creamy, silky cheese,” he says. Plus, a sprinkle of whatever salad greens and tender herbs are hanging around in your crisper drawer—arugula, chives, dill, basil—can transform each cheesecake piece from a bite-size canapé to a full-fledged entrée.
The savory cookies, in whatever shape you choose, are a smart, plan-ahead tactic when it comes to dinner parties or potlucks. Baked ahead of time, they’re still consistently delicious after sitting out at room temperature, resulting in a ready-to-eat meal that avoids the valuable real estate of the stove or oven.