Left: Smokey Ranch Straws; Right: Cheddar Straws
Ah, cheese straws. Deliciously addictive and simple to make, these party snacks are definitely not diet food. As a British article so eloquently put it,
"Maligned by some as dull, the cheese straw is in fact, and quite correctly, pre-eminent among canapés. Its glowing, golden complexion can entice and it brings with it a message of comfort and wholeness. It rises above the one-bite rule and can be waved around and used to drive home important conversational points." (Source)
Yeah...I guess in Britain it's not a party until cheese straws get waved around!
Cheese Straws (adapted from Paula Deen)
- ½ cup butter, cut into 16 pieces
- 8 oz. extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. cayenne pepper*
*Original recipe calls for ¼ teaspoon. I upped it to ½ teaspoon but did not find it to have any heat at all. Maybe my taste buds aren't working, but I'll definitely try ¾ teaspoon next time. There are recipes out there which use a full teaspoon of cayenne, so adjust according to your tastes.
Combine all ingredients in bowl of food processor. Pulse in 5-second increments to get things going, then run food processor until smooth dough forms. At this point, the dough will be soft and workable. You may choose to hand roll the dough into sticks or use a cookie press/pastry bag to pipe out pretty ridged straws of dough (Bake at 350°F for about 15 minutes or so). If you're lazy like me though, shape the dough into a rectangle, place in quart-sized plastic zip top bag, and chill until firm.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Slice chilled dough into desired sized sticks (I got around 4 dozen) and place on foil lined cookie sheets. Bake at 350°F for 15-20 minutes. Cool on wire rack and serve at room temperature. Be careful when using them to point during conversation.
To make an equally delicious smokey ranch version, use your favorite breed of smoked cheddar cheese and chipotle chili powder in place of regular cheddar and cayenne. Omit the salt and use a 1-ounce packet of dry ranch dressing mix instead. Yum!