Here in the UK, we have some of the finest cheeses in the world.
Cheddar immediately springs to mind of course, and if you are thinking that there is only one kind of cheddar, then you would be sadly mistaken. There are as many types of cheddars as there are areas over here, each area seemingly having taken to producing their own variety and some of them are very good indeed. I love a good farmhouse cheddar myself.
Besides Cheddar, which ranges in strength from mild to very strong, there are lovely cheeses such as Wensleydale, which comes from the Wensleydale region in the Yorkshire Dales. (We were fortunate enough to have visited the factory there a few summers back) Red Leicester, which is a beautiful orange colour and wonderfully rich and creamy. Cornish Yarg, Double Gloucester, Sage Derby, Shropshire Blue, Lancashire . . . to name but a very few.
In truth, my absolute favourite has to be Stilton . . .
Quite rightfully known as the "King" of British Cheeses, Stilton claims it's name from a village just South of Peterborough . . . Smooth and creamy, with a beautifully complex flavour, this is one of our favourite cheeses to serve here at Oak Cottage during the Christmas season, indeed during any season.
It turns up in all kinds of shapes and forms . . . tis absolutely lovely nibbled with some crispy crackers, or on a cheese tray along with some sliced apples and golden pears. Crumbled into a tasty cauliflower soup, or on top of a cauliflower cheese . . . folded into a golden Potato Gratin . . .
Oh . . . it is so very lovely in all sorts of ways, hot or cold . . .
but . . . none lovelier than this wonderfully unique nibble, which combines some purely British tastes and textures . . .
A crispy, buttery and tangy stilton flavoured shortbread base, filled with the toasted crunch of rich walnuts . . . then, topped with creamy philadelphia cheese and a tasty dollop of sweet and spicy mango chutney . . . a leftover taste from our Colonial days in India. The toasted walnut garnishing the top is the perfect capper.
You will really enjoy these. You can bake the little shortbreads well ahead of time and keep them in the freezer, warming them up and topping them with the cream cheese and chutney just prior to serving.
These are fabulous, simply fabulous. These will truly be the jewels of your Holiday Nibble Trays.
*Stilton and Walnut Shortbreads with an Indian Twist*
These tasty and savoury shortbreads are truly delicious even on their own, but when you marry them with the soothing creaminess of soft cheese and the tangy spicness of a good mango chutney, well, it truly is a marriage made in heaven! These are always the first to dissappear off the Hors D'oeuvres trays.
4 ounces of Stilton cheese at room temperature
3 TBS unsalted butter, at room temperature
70g plain flour
30g corn flour
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp sea salt
50g chopped walnuts
3 TBS cream cheese
3 TBS good quality mango chutney
36 small walnut halves, toasted (for garnishing)
Put the blue cheese and butter into the bowl of a food processor. Process together until creamy. Whisk the flour, corn flour, pepper and salt together in a small bowl. Add to the creamed mixture in the food processor and pulse to combine. Add the chopped walnuts and pulse just until incorporated. You still want there to be little discernable chunks of walnuts. Do NOT overprocess.
Remove the mixture from the food processor and shape into a flattened disc. Wrap well in cling film and chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour, or until firm.
Pre-heat the oven to 160*C/325*F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Place the chilled dough on a piece of cling film. Cover with another piece of cling film. Roll the dough out to about 1/4 of an inch thick. Remove the top piece of cling film and cut into 1 inch fluted circles with a sharp cutter. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Gather the dough scraps together and press back into a disk, roll out and repeat until all the dough is used up , placing each on the baking sheet, leaving about 1/2 inch of space between each one.
Bake until lighty brown, about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and place on wire racks to cool. You can do this much several days ahead if you wish.
When you are ready to serve them. Top each biscuit with a tsp of the creamed cheese and then an equal amount of the chutney. Finally place a toasted walnut on top of each. Serve. (Don't top with the toppings until you are ready to serve them)