My mom would always make spicy cheese straws for the holidays and was sure to have them waiting for us for almost every celebration. A Southern staple for teas, weddings and showers, you can make these as wafers, as shown, or use a cookie press to shape them into straws. I find the wafers faster and easier-- plus I can roll the dough into a log and freeze. That way I can just slice and bake when guests pop in or when I am in need of a quick bite to serve with a glass of wine or Champagne.
I want to mention that this dough always looks like it is not "wet" enough once you mix it. Do not be tempted to add additional butter or liquid. It will come together. Just use your hands to form it. You'll see.
SPICY SOUTHERN CHEESE STRAWS
Skill Level: Easy
Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 10-12 minutes
1 pound extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into cubes*
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Dash Tabasco or to taste
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Chill the cheese well and grate it using a food processor or the side with large holes on a box grater. Set aside.
NOTE: I make this recipe in a food processor because I find it easier but you do not have to use a food processor. My mom never had one. Just mix in a bowl.
In a food processor, add the flour, salt and pepper and pulse 10-12 times to blend. Add the butter. Turn the food processor to "run" for 10 seconds. The result should be like coarse cornmeal. If it is not, pulse a few more times. Add the cheese and the hot sauce. Pulse just until the cheese is incorporated. Turn the food processor to "run" for 5-6 seconds.
*NOTE: If you intend to pipe the dough into straws, you may obtain a better/easier to pipe result if you melt the butter rather than use cold butter and leave the cheese at room temperature. See directions for piping into straws below. Many of the old school southern recipes call for melted butter.
(Note: If you do not have a food processor, mix the dry ingredients together. Use a pastry cutter or two forks to cut the butter and the cheese into the flour. Add the hot sauce and mix well.)
For wafers: Turn the dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap for wafers. Shape it into a log using your hands and roll the dough up in the plastic. Twist the ends of the plastic wrap to secure and put into the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. To bake, remove the plastic wrap and slice into discs, place about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on a rack.
(Note: Another option is to use a very small ice cream scoop to portion uniform balls onto the prepared pan. Using a fork, (which you may need to flour) press each one, creating the design shown above.)
For straws: Place the dough into a cookie press or pastry bag fitted with a star tip. Push the dough into one corner of the bag and press the air out. Snip the tip and pipe them into 3” long strips about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned on the bottom and edges.
Yield: 2- 4 dozen depending on the size and shape. You can get 55-60 wafers from this recipe using a small ice cream scoop or melon baller.