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Weekends often see us scrambling for appetizers for a social gathering. You need something now. Something quick. Something good.

And here it is. It is even something simple, too, but the flavor is quite powerful. When you combine all the cheese here with ground hot pepper, you get a true thrill that stands up to the power of any cocktail or wine you might be serving.

The only downside of this appetizer is its addictiveness. Just like potato chips, you cannot eat just one. And while this recipe says it make about 78 rounds, you may find your rolled balls are a tad large and the yield is lower. It’s as easy to make two batches of these as one.

And, you can freeze these. If there happen to be any leftovers. Which is unlikely.


Peppery Cheese Rounds

Yield: about 6 ½ dozen rounds, but this can vary on how you roll the dough


  • 2 ½ to 2 ¾ cups sifted unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon ground hot red pepper (cayenne), depending on how hot you like things
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) refrigerator-cold unsalted butter, cut into slim pats
  • 8 ounces freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano


Preheat oven to 350°F.

Whisk 2 ½ cups flour, cayenne, nutmeg, and salt together in large shallow bowl. Add butter, then with pastry blender, cut into dry ingredients until texture of coarse meal.

Add cheese and work in with fingers until uniformly crumbly. Squeeze hit of mixture and if holds together, dough is ready. If not, work in a little additional flour.

Shape dough into ¾ inch balls, space about 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets, then with floured, smooth-surfaced meat pounder or bottom of sturdy glass, flatten into rounds ¼ inch thick.

Bake, one sheet at a time, on middle oven shelf 10 to 12 minutes until color of parchment.

Transfer cheese rounds at once to wire racks and cool to room temperature. Store in airtight containers.


Source: From a Southern Oven by Jean Anderson [Wiley, 2012]