Spicy Cheese Straws

Kirk and I LOVE cheese straws 🙂 I came across Smitten Kitchen’s blog post yesterday and decided I needed to give it a go. This is a great staple for all the Christmas parties going on right now!

Smitten Kitchen Blog: Cheese Straws

Results? Ah-mazing!! The recipe was relatively easy to follow and the straws turned out super delicious. I used a cookie gun (with star insert) instead of rolling the dough out like the recipe called for. If you have one, the gun makes it 10x faster and you can avoid the extra cleanup of the counter and your rolling pin.

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Cheese Straws

Recipe Adapted from Smitten Kitchen Blog, link provided above

3 cups grated extra-sharp Cheddar cheese (mine was probably closer to 3 1/2)
1 stick unsalted butter, softened to room temperature (don’t skip this, affects flakiness)
1 1/2 cup flour, plus more for dusting if you’re not using a cookie gun
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or more if you want them realllly spicy)
2 tablespoons half-and-half

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. In a food processor, combine the cheese, butter, flour, salt and red pepper in five 5-second pulses until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs (don’t use pulse button, use regular button – works much better). Add the half-and-half and process until the dough forms a ball, about 10 seconds.

3A. If using a cookie gun – fill dough into gun using a spoon and start piping away!  With the cookie sheet turned long ways, make 4-5 long strips of cheese straws.  Using a pastry cutter, pizza cutter or knife, cut into 3″ portions.  Turn all straws 45 degrees to the left so they aren’t touching.

3B.  If rolling out – On a lightly floured surface, using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough into an 8- by 10-inch rectangle that is 1/8-inch thick. With a sharp knife (or a pizza or pastry wheel; both worked great), cut the dough into thin 8-inch strips, each 1/4- to 1/3-inch wide (dipping the knife in flour after every few inches ensures a clean cut). Gently transfer the strips to an ungreased cookie sheet (though I lined mine with parchment), leaving at least 1/4-inch between them. The dough may sag or may break occasionally in the transfer, but don’t be concerned — just do your best. The straws can be any length, from 2 to 10 inches.

4. Bake the straws on the middle rack for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the ends are barely browned. Remove from the oven and set the cookie sheet on a rack to cool.

5. Serve at room temperature. Cheese straws will keep in the refrigerator, in a sealed container, for two days. They will not last an hour at a party.

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Other than using the gun, I didn’t make any major tweaks. But here are some more specifics of what I did in case you are interested:

  • I doubled the recipe and my 11 cup food processor was able to handle it! It was close though 🙂
  • To bake, I did one batch on my baking stone and another using regular cookie sheets. The ones on the cookie sheets came out crunchier and spicer. Next time, I’ll only use the cookie sheets.
  • I used parchment paper to line the sheets, highly recommended!
  • If you use the cookie gun, make super long squiggle lines and then go back and cut them to your desired length. Mine were about 3″ inches each.
  • I’m not sure if it makes a difference if you use pre-shredded cheese or blocks. I shredded a block in the food processor using the shred blade and the cheese was great to work with. I have found that in many recipes pre-shredded cheese doesn’t blend as well.

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