What foods do you crave when you’re in desperate need of comfort? After making the hard decision to turn down a cookbook deal, Nora Singley — a NYC- and L.A.-based food stylist, recipe developer, former Martha Stewart television chef, and now the writer behind the voice-y recipe newsletter, NOODLE — had her heart in a blender. So, she turned to the kitchen and began experimenting with two foods that could always turn her day around: cheese and biscuits. After a few trial-and-errors, she came up with a savory biscuit recipe that feels like a warm hug and tastes “pillowy, peppery, salty, rich and light.” Here’s how to make them…
Pull-Apart Salt + Pepper Cheddar-Frico Biscuits
Recipe from Nora’s NOODLE newsletter
“Nothing mends a broken heart like
booze CHEESE. In this recipe, each fluffy biscuit is surrounded by a lattice of nutty frico that’s super delicate and crackly, but sturdy enough to cling to the biscuit’s circumference.”
1 stick unsalted butter, plus additional for greasing parchment paper
2 ¼ cups plus 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour, divided
8 ounces sharp white cheddar, grated on the large holes of a box grater, divided (roughly 3 ½ cups lightly packed cups total)
2 ¾ teaspoons baking powder
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 ¾ cups heavy cream
Flaky salt, for finishing
Preheat oven to 425°F with a rack in the center. Line a rimmed half-sheet baking pan (13” x 17 ½”) with parchment paper. Lightly grease the parchment with butter.
Cut the butter into ½-inch cubes. Return to the refrigerator to keep cold.
In a medium bowl, combine the 2 teaspoons of flour and HALF of the cheese. Toss to coat and transfer to the refrigerator. (This is the frico mixture; you’ll sprinkle it around the biscuits later, halfway through baking.)
In a large bowl, whisk to combine the remaining 2 ¼ cups flour, baking powder, 1 teaspoon pepper, and 1¼ teaspoons salt. Add the butter and the remaining cheese and toss to combine.
Using your hands, begin working the butter and cheese into the dry ingredients, rubbing, pressing, and flattening the butter cubes as if you’re slowly “snapping” your fingers. As you “snap,” run your thumb along the top portions of your second and third fingers. Continue until the butter is well-incorporated and the mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some slightly larger, pea-sized pieces of butter remaining.
Working somewhat quickly, this process takes me 2 ½ to 3 ½ minutes, depending on how cold the butter is. If you feel the mixture has warmed at this point, transfer to the refrigerator for 10 minutes to chill.
Pour the cream around the sides and into the center of the bowl, simultaneously stirring and folding with a rubber spatula. Continue stirring only until no dry bits remain, being sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl to stir in all the flour. Dough will be a bit shaggy and rough. To prevent tough biscuits, don’t over mix.
Working with a heaping 1/3 cup of the dough at a time, gently scoop mounds with a large spoon or 1/3 cup measure, about 2 ½ to 3 inches in diameter. Place on the prepared pan. Repeat with the remaining dough, forming 10 rounds total, spacing them 1 ½ to 2 inches apart and evening them out as you go. Sprinkle the tops with flaky salt and a generous amount of additional cracked black pepper. If you have the time and the space, transfer baking sheet to the refrigerator or freezer to chill for 10 minutes, which will help the biscuits keep their shape. Transfer to the oven.
Reduce oven temperature to 400°F. Bake until edges are set and the biscuits are beginning to turn lightly golden in spots, about 13 to 15 minutes.
Retrieve the frico mixture from the refrigerator. Remove the baking sheet from the oven. Sprinkle the cheese to surround the biscuits, coating the surface of the baking sheet. If any cheese falls on top of the biscuits, that’s totally fine. Note: if the biscuits have spread too close to one another, gently nudge them apart with a metal spatula before sprinkling the cheese. Return to the oven, rotating the baking sheet so that the biscuits that were in the back are now in the front and continue to bake until the cheese has frico’ed and turned lightly golden, about 12 to 14 minutes more.
You’re going for lightly golden. The color of the cheese should be the real indicator of doneness: better to slightly underbake the biscuits than overbake the frico. (Frico that turns too golden can taste a touch bitter, so watch that oven.)
Let sit until just cool enough to handle, and, using a small spatula or knife, break apart the frico-enrobed biscuits. Eat warm! Reheat any leftover biscuits at 325°F for 10 to 12 minutes. Find instructional videos here.
Thank you so much Nora! You can subscribe to her newly launched NOODLE newsletter here, if you’d like.
P.S. Seven perfect cheese pairings, Smitten Kitchen’s lazy egg sandwich, and how to keep lipstick off your wine glass.
(Photos by Nora Singley for NOODLE.)