Dec 30, 2008

Cheese Straws

Looking for a tasty party snack for New Year's? These are easy, they come together in the food processor and can be prepped ahead of time. Just wrap the dough and refrigerate it until you're ready to roll them out and bake them.

This is Mark Bittman's recipe and I like that he adds Parmesan to the cheddar for a more complex flavor. These are like a deluxe version of the Cheese Nip crackers of your childhood, but much better.

These make a great party snack with a beer, but would also be good with fruit, or on the side of a bowl of soup or beans.

Keep in mind that the cheeses are fairly salty. I didn't add any salt to the dough, but did sprinkle a tiny bit of coarse sea salt over the top of them for a little crunch. If you do that, use a very light hand.

Cheese Straws

1/2 pound sharp Cheddar
1/3 pound Parmesan
2 cups (9 ounces) flour
pinch of cayenne
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, very cold, cut into chunks
1 cup ice water

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Grate cheese and set aside in a bowl.

Put flour and cayenne into a food processor and pulse briefly to combine.

Add butter chunks and process until combined.

Add cheeses and process in pulses until combined.

Dough will be fairly dry. Add ice water, a tablespoon at a time, until the dough just begins to come together.

Dump out the dough on to a clean counter (a silpat or some parchment makes for easier clean-up).

Knead dough by hand, adding more ice water as needed to bring it together into a dough. (I ended up using over 1/2 cup of ice water.)

At this point, you can wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate until the day of serving.

Roll out the dough on a floured surface (using a floured pin) or between two pieces of plastic wrap. Roll out evenly until it's 1/4-inch thick. Using a pizza cutter or a wavy pastry cutter, cut into strips. You can then cut the strips into pieces (or diamonds if you make the second cut on an angle) as big as you'd like. I found bite-sized pieces were easier to handle for me and for eaters later.

Sprinkle tops very lightly with coarse sea salt, if you like.

Bake on a greased or silpat/parchment-lined baking sheet for 6-8 minutes until golden.

Best served slightly warm.

Serves as least 8-10 depending on size.

Adapted from Mark Bittman in the New York Times.

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