Charlotte Druckman’s Cacio e Pepe Shortbread Recipe on Food52 (2024)

Cast Iron

by: Genius Recipes



13 Ratings

  • Serves 10 to 12

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Author Notes

Adapted slightly from Stir, Sizzle, Bake: Recipes for Your Cast Iron Skillet (Random House, 2016). —Genius Recipes

  • Test Kitchen-Approved

What You'll Need

  • 1/2 cupplus 2 teaspoons finely grated Parmesan cheese, using the small holes of a box grater (divided)
  • 1/2 cupplus 2 teaspoons finely grated pecorino Romano cheese, using the small holes of a box grater (divided)
  • 2 teaspoonscoarsely ground black pepper (divided)
  • 1 cup(2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cupconfectioners’ sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoonskosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cupsall-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cupsemolina flour
  • 1 tablespoonplus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil (divided)
  1. Heat the oven to 350° F with a 10-inch cast-iron skillet in it.
  2. In a small bowl, combine 2 teaspoons each of the Parmesan and pecorino and 1 teaspoon of the pepper. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter on low speed for 1 minute or so, until it’s smooth and fluffy, like cake frosting. Add the sugar, salt, and remaining 1 teaspoon pepper and mix until combined. Turn off the mixer and, using a rubber spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl. Set the speed to medium and mix for 4 to 5 minutes more, until the mixture takes on a thick, creamy, almost shiny texture, like mayonnaise.
  4. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl again. Add the all-purpose and semolina flours and mix on low speed to incorporate. Turn off the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl one more time, add the remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan and 1/2 cup pecorino, and mix for 1 minute. Using the rubber spatula, push the dough together to form a ball.
  5. Remove the hot skillet from the oven and brush it with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil. Turn the dough into the skillet and, working quickly, using your fingers (but being careful of the hot pan), press the dough into the skillet, pushing it out to fill the edges and flattening it to create an even surface. Brush with the remaining 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil. Sprinkle the dough with the cheese-pepper mixture.
  6. Bake the shortbread for 18 to 23 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. The middle should be cooked through, but slightly soft; it will harden as it cools. Let cool for 10 minutes. Using a plate, carefully invert the pan and flip the shortbread out, then flip it once more onto another plate, so that it’s right-side up. Let cool completely. (Or simply cool, slice, and serve from the pan.)
  7. To serve, divide the shortbread into 10 to 12 wedges. Enjoy it with your afternoon coffee or aperitifs. Like prosecco, Bellinis, rosé, or whatever you like to drink at co*cktail hour.


  • Cookie
  • Italian
  • Cheese
  • Semolina
  • Make Ahead
  • Serves a Crowd
  • Cast Iron
  • Spring
  • Summer
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Christmas

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

Popular on Food52

16 Reviews

samanthaalison April 28, 2019

Any idea what the weights are for the cheeses? Measuring grated cheese by weight always seems way to fiddly to me - it depends on whether you pack it, etc.

KFS January 18, 2017

Does it have to be done in a cast iron pan...could I round it out and bake it on a baking sheet?

Rivka January 12, 2017

How long does this keep?

Kristen M. January 12, 2017

It keeps well, like other shortbreads, but I'd say it tastes best within 4 or 5 days. If you're going to do other exciting things with it, like warm it up to serve under poached eggs, you'd be able to extend that (especially by keeping it in the fridge).

Kristen M. January 12, 2017

Also, hi Rivka! Happy to see you here.

Chloe January 11, 2017

Semolina flour is not something I typically have on hand. Is there something else I could potentially substitute for it?

Kristen M. January 12, 2017

I haven't tried it myself yet, but I think since it's only 1/2 cup, you could substitute more all-purpose flour, fine cornmeal, or another a fine whole grain flour.

chardrucks February 8, 2017

hi! adding to your options, you could go with spelt! or kamut (although you're probably not likely to have it on hand; kamut, btw? I LOVE). the semolina flour's a bit softer than the AP, so it gives you a slightly more powdery texture. but not enough that leaving it out will make the shortbread any less good.

Grace H. March 18, 2020

A dear friend, who is also a wonderful cook, told me to simply substitute Cream-of-Wheat cereal for the semolina. I have done this and it has worked perfectly.

KLCannaday January 10, 2017

This is really intriguing... just wondering about the level of sweetness. While I don't bake a lot, 1/2 cup of confectioners sugar seems generous for a savory shortbread (?)

Kristen M. January 10, 2017

It's sweet and savory at the same time—very unique. I didn't know how to explain it to people I served it to, but it didn't seem to matter. They inhaled it.

Lisa January 1, 2017

I have parmasean cheese on hand all the time but not always the pecorino - could other types of firm/hard cheeses be used? Thinking asiago or even a good sharp cheddar

Kristen M. January 3, 2017

To get the same texture, you'll want to go with something comparably dry—I'd probably just use more Parmesan to make up the difference, but either of those could fit the bill if they're not too soft (and the flavor should be nice, regardless).

chardrucks February 8, 2017

hi! just checking in here. it may be too late, but i just wanted to add that you can go with parmesan alone, but pecorino's a bit saltier and sharper--parmesan's a bit nuttier and a little more muted, so if you do a swap with another cheese, which i encourage (why not?) keep that in mind.

Martha S. December 21, 2016

The description mentions semolina flour and the directions say "flours" (plural). Please clarify. Thanks

Kristen M. December 21, 2016

There's also all-purpose flour—I just added a little more description to that step to help clarify!

Charlotte Druckman’s Cacio e Pepe Shortbread Recipe on Food52 (2024)
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