Cheese Straws

Photo of home made Cheese Straws on a burlap backgroundSipping Wine With A Straw
A couple weekends ago, I went wine tasting with a group of friends and had a great time. I know what you’re thinking. A day in the Napa Valley sipping fine wine and snacking on cheese can only be a good time. You are not wrong.

It is easy to take for granted that we, as residents of the Bay Area, have such easy access to a world-renown wine-growing region. I mean, I can get in the car and be in a whole different world amongst the vines in 45 minutes. It’s crazy and I know I don’t take advantage of that access nearly enough. A sentiment that was echoed by each of us while we were up there.

It’s no news that cheese pairs perfectly with wine. So, it shouldn’t be surprising that the same region that produces amazing wines also produces some amazing cheese. Imagine my surprise when snacking on a few tidbits during one of our tastings, it was the cheese straw, not the actual local cheese, that made me swoon.

Cheese straws are not a new phenomenon. Ask any true Southerner and they will tell you a thing or two about cheese straws. But, much like the Napa Valley, I had forgotten just how good they are.

Depending on the recipe you make or the brand you buy, cheese straws come in all sorts of varieties, sizes, and spice levels. I, myself, am partial to the classic cheddar and cayenne pepper combination in our recipe below. These babies are great to have on hand for the friend who drops by for an impromptu chat and can hold their own on any cocktail party hors d’oeuvre table…

Cheese Straws Recipe
Adapted from The Food Network
Yields about 4 dozen Cheese Straws

This recipe makes a lot of Cheese Straws. And, that is perfect if you are hosting a party or considering handing them out as gifts.

Three 10-ounce bricks sharp Cheddar cheese
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Dash of garlic powder
Cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Mix the cheese
Shred the cheese while it is cold—straight out of the fridge. Then allow it to come to room temperature. Put the softened cheese and butter in the bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer. Using the heaviest mixer paddle attachment, beat until the mixture has the consistency of whipped cream (about 15 to 30 minutes).

Make the dough
In a large bowl, sift 3 cups of the flour with the salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and garlic powder. Gradually add the seasoned flour to the cheese mixture by large spoonfuls, beating well after each addition. Add the remaining 1 cup of unseasoned flour incrementally until the dough is somewhat stiff but still soft enough to be pushed through a cookie press; you may not need to add all the flour.

Form the cheese sticks
Lightly spray 4 cookie sheets with cooking spray.

There are multiple ways to form the cheese sticks: 1. with a cookie press, 2. rolled and cut, or 3. flatted balls:

1. Put a portion of the dough into a cookie press fitted with the star tube and press the dough onto a cookie sheet in long strips that run the length of the pan. Repeat until the pan is full. After baking, break (with your hands) or cut the long strips into 3-inch lengths.

2. Or you can divide the dough into two large balls, Roll each ball out into a rectangle, and cut 1/4-inch thick, long strips that you place on the trays. After baking, break them (with your hands) or cut the strips into 3-inch lengths.

3. Or roll the dough between your hands into 1-inch diameter balls and flatten them with a fork.

Bake the straws
Bake until the straws are golden brown and crisp (about 20 minutes). Use a flat, thin spatula to carefully remove the cheese strips from the pan. Allow them to cool on a wire rack.

When they are completely cool, serve or store them in a tightly-covered container.


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