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Cheese Straws


This year, I had the crazy idea to send out my very first holiday gift boxes. I spent weeks planning what to include. I wanted to make sure that the treats in the box were shippable, and that there was something for everyone to enjoy. I knew that I wanted treats with classic winter flavors like gingerbread and peppermint, so I put peppermint bark and gingerbread men in the boxes. I also included some biscotti; they are easy to make, delicious, and I figured they would ship well. In addition to that, I wanted to add something savory for people that were “cookied-out” and something fruity to round out the flavors. Well, the fruit jellies I tried to make turned into gummy-fruit-soup-goo, so I turned my focus to picking a great savory snack. I figured the best thing to send would be something crunchy and cheesy. Almost everyone loves cheese straws, they are compact so you can take them in your pocket, they don’t require refrigeration, and they are tasty! The boxes looked great once they were put together, but I definitely learned a lot for next year, like don’t pack the gingerbread on the edge because they will show up missing an arm or leg. Or maybe I will pack them the same way, gingerbread without their appendages need love too.

I chose this recipe for cheese straws because they looked so easy to make. I mean what could be that hard about making dough in the food processor, rolling it out, cutting it into strips, and baking up straws of cheesy goodness? It didn’t sound too difficult to me! Well, the dough making was easy, just throw everything in the food processor. However, these are quite difficult to transfer. The dough is very fragile and tends to break. The good news is that you get little mini pieces of cheese straw that you just can’t include in the boxes. I was forced to eat all of the broken small pieces, it was a difficult task, but fortunately I’ve been trained for such a situation.

Cheese Straws
Yield: about 2 dozen (give or take the ones you break and eat)
printer friendly version

1/4 pound coarsely grated extra-sharp Cheddar (1 1/2 cups)
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
1/2 teaspoon salt
Rounded 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1 1/2 tablespoons whole milk

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Pulse cheese, flour, butter, salt, and cayenne in a food processor until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add milk, a little bit at a time, and pulse until the dough forms a ball.

Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 12- by 10-inch rectangle (1/8 inch thick). Cut dough with a lightly floured pizza wheel or lightly floured sharp knife into 1/3-inch-wide strips. Carefully transfer to 2 baking sheets lined with parchment paper, arranging strips 1/4 inch apart. (If strips tear, pinch back together.)

Bake until pale golden.  The recipe says to bake 15-18 minutes, but I found mine were done in 8-10 minutes. Cool completely on baking sheets.

Source: epicurious.com

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