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Southern Summer Cheese Straws

Southern Summer Cheese Straws

Cheese straws are a southern favorite.  I have memories of these cheesy sticks of yumminess that go back to the days when our extended family gathered for Homecoming in central Louisiana. Whether at my grandparents house or down by the creek, there was always fried fish and a big cauldron of gumbo – the Cajun kind, not the New Orleans-style Creole gumbo – blackberry cobbler from berries we’d picked the day before, served with ice cream we churned on the spot, fresh lemonade (or a bottle of Coca Cola if you were lucky) and cheese straws.

These days, we have cheese straws during the holidays, watching football, as a snack in the car, and sometimes just on a Tuesday.  Easy to whip up and keep in the freezer, they’re especially good with a glass of wine and a few fresh berries. The traditional “straw” shape isn’t a requirement, either. Just slice and bake anytime you crave a little taste of a sweet, simple, southern summer.

Southern Summer Cheese Straws

Ingredients

1 pound sharp Cheddar cheese, grated, room temperature (about 4 cups)
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper                                                                                                                                     1/4 teaspoon paprika
Dash or two of garlic powder

Directions

Combine the grated cheese and softened butter in a food processor until blended.

In a large bowl, sift 3 cups of the flour with the salt, cayenne pepper, paprika and garlic powder. Gradually add the seasoned flour to the cheese mixture by large spoonfuls, blending well after each addition. Add the final 1 cup unseasoned flour incrementally until the dough is somewhat stiff, not crumbly, but still soft enough to be pushed through a cookie press. Remove the top of the food processor and feel the dough – you may not need to add all the flour.

Spray cookie sheets with non-stick cooking spray or line with parchment/Silpat. Add a portion of the dough into a cookie press fitted with the star-shaped disk and press the dough onto a cookie sheet in long strips the length of the pan.

Cheese Straws Cookie Press

Alternately, roll into teaspoon sized balls, place on a cookie sheet and flatten into discs with the tines of a fork. Repeat until the pan is full. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until straws are lightly golden brown and crisp, about 20 minutes.

Break or cut the long strips into shorter lengths. Remove the cheese strips from the pan and cool on a wire rack. When they are completely cool, serve or store in an airtight container.

Tips:

Gruyere cheese is also delicious in this recipe.

If you don’t have a cookie press, form the dough into 1-inch balls and flatten them with a fork.

This dough keep wonderfully in the freezer.