Christmas cheese and quince shortbread recipe by Olia Hercules | Christmas food and drink

In 2015, a national newspaper held a Christmas fair and invited me, a budding young writer, to come and sell some baked goods. As a freelancer and single mum, my finances were extremely limited. So I asked my best friend Caroline to help me make something out of nothing.

I had a lot of quince jelly from the previous year and a large piece of a Swedish equivalent of parmesan – västerbotten.

I had an idea to combine them in a biscuit. I roughly based the recipe on Nigella Lawson’s parmesan shortbread recipe, and that was that. We baked all night and completely sold out the next day. It is such a good, moreish biscuit that will satisfy all your cheese and sweet cravings at once.

Feel free to use plain flour if you like, but I have a slight buckwheat flour obsession; it works so well here and makes the biscuits gluten-free, for those who care.

Makes 20-25 biscuits
buckwheat or plain flour 150g
västerbotten or parmesan cheese 75g, finely grated
unsalted butter 100g, softened
egg yolk 1
quince jelly 100g

Mix all the ingredients except the quince jelly together, either by hand or in a food mixer. If you are doing it by hand and the dough refuses to come together, sprinkle over ½ tablespoon of water.

Knead the dough, cut it in half and roll each half first into a ball and then into a 16cm log. Wrap it tightly in clingfilm and keep in the fridge for 30 minutes minimum, or up to a couple of days, until ready to cook. (You can also stick it in the freezer instead, for 20 minutes or so, if short on time.)

Preheat the oven to 170C fan/gas mark 5. Cut each log into 1cm-thick coins, then make an imprint with your finger in each of the pieces. Put the biscuits on a lined baking sheet; they can be quite close to each other as there will be minimal spread.

Bake for 15 minutes or until they look firm and are starting to become golden.

Take them out of the oven and gently spoon a little quince jelly into each indentation, then return them to the oven for another 3-5 minutes. Let them cool…


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