Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Cheese Straws

This morning I woke up early, peeked at the outdoor thermometer and immediately headed for the kitchen. It was cool enough to bake, so I was going to take advantage of it! Last week I finished moving into the new Melt kitchen and I have been itching to bake, but temps have been in the 90's and have deterred me from breaking in my new "old" oven. My husband and I have been busily painting and unpacking, pounding nails to hang pictures and rearranging furniture to fit into our new space. Finally we are starting to feel settled. Louisiana is our new home. For now.

Since we are currently "southerners" I pulled out a southern cookbook and flipped to a bookmarked recipe. This cheese straw recipe caught my eye over Christmas and I have had it bookmarked ever since. It was a great choice.

Dede's Cheese Straws
Source: Bon App├ętit, Y'all by Virginia Willis
Prep: 10 minutes   Rest: 15 minutes   Bake: 20 minutes   Oven: 375 degrees F
Yield: 6 dozen

1 1/2  cups all-purpose flour
1/2     teaspoon fine sea salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper, to taste
1/2     pound sharp Cheddar cheese, at room temperature, freshly grated
1/2     cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

Position the oven racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter 2 baking sheets.

To make the dough, in a small bowl, combine the flour, salt, and cayenne. Set aside. In a heavy-duty mixer fitted with the paddle, cream the cheese and butter on medium speed until smooth and well combined. Gradually add the flour mixture. Mix on low speed until smooth. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside to rest for about 15 minutes.

To shape the dough, work it in your hands; it should be soft and pliable (like Play-Doh). Shape the dough into a cylinder and pack it into a cookie press fitted with the serrated ribbon disk.

Holding the cookie press at an angle to one of the prepared baking sheets, press the trigger twice, dragging the press away to make a long straw the length of the baking sheet. Repeat until you've covered the sheet, spacing the ribbons of dough 1 inch apart. Using a butter knife, cut each ribbon into 1 to 2 inch pieces. Repeat with the remaining dough and the other baking sheet. (If your cookie press extrudes the dough in fits and spurts, simply pick up the dough and reuse.)

Bake the cheese straws, rotating the baking sheets once, until lightly browned on the edges, about 20 minutes. Remove the baking sheets to a rack to cool slightly. Using an offset spatula, remove the individual cheese straws to cool completely.

Store the cheese straws at room temperature in an airtight container between sheets of waxed paper. They will keep for 2 to 3 weeks.

Harmony's Thoughts
I used a hand mixture to mix this recipe together and it worked fine for me. Just make sure your ingredients are at room temperature.
When using the cookie press, I pressed the trigger a whole lot more than twice to fit the length of the cookie sheet. Start playing with it and you will get the hang of it!
One of the best things about this recipe is the storage time. You can make these way ahead of time and store them for more than one use. Great served as croutons with a salad!