Monday, January 5, 2009

Cheese Straws

I've probably already done this but you need to hear it again. Because Cheese Straws are really important in the Grand Scheme of Things. And in TGSofT, you need to get it right.

Center Star/Neiman Marcus Cheese Straws
(Those are NOT mutually exclusive terms.)

1 pound sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
2 sticks butter, room temp
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
Cayenne pepper
3 cups all-purpose flour

Buy your cheese in blocks and grate it. Do NOT buy grated cheese in bags; I don't think that stuff is really cheese. It's easiest to grate the cheese cold into the bowl, and then let it come to room temperature. Add the butter, salt, baking powder and cayenne. For public consumption, I use one teaspoon cayenne; for The Inmates here, I use a tablespoon. Mix all this together with your dough hooks until well blended. Add three cups flour (don't use King Arthur or other high gluten flour...White Lily or another soft Southern winter wheat is best) and mix with the dough hooks JUST until the mixture starts to lose its crumbly texture. You need a cookie press, with a star extractor disk...usually there are two star disks and you'll need the larger one. Pack the cheese dough into the cookie press and pipe long straws onto ungreased cookie sheets...you should have two large baking sheets of straws. Have oven racks in the two center positions in the oven and bake at 350 degrees for ten minutes. Swap the sheets, moving the top to the bottom and the bottom sheet to the top rack, and bake an additional ten minutes. Swap sheets again and bake five minutes, or until just beginning to lightly brown...usually on the bottom. Remove from the oven and cut across the pan, forming roughly three-inch straws. Lift onto cooling racks and let cool completely. Store (if they last long enough) in a paper bag or loosely covered container.

My friend, Bobby, makes wonderful cheese straws and he has a suggestion. He uses one stick butter and one stick margarine...preferably that "baking" margarine they came out with last year. If you are making cheese straws and the dough gets warm, the cheese straws will spread. So either make sure the dough is cool, or use half butter and half margarine.

3 comments:

City Girl said...

And do NOT skimp on the Cayenne!

Le laquet said...

I spread a little marmite - you either love it or hate it - on my cheese straws before I bake them ... lovely dipped in tomato soup

Le laquet said...

p.s. *dribbling into keyboard now*