Monday, November 2, 2009

Spicy Cheese Straws

I love anything with cheese! I first made this recipe two years ago for my holiday open house. I recently made them again for a shower and I had forgotten how yummy they are. I love the spicy kick from the red pepper flakes as well as the crispy crunch. In addition to being an edible treat these cheese straws also became part of the tablescape. Cheese straws can be displayed in crystal glasses, short vases, or mint julep cups.

Spicy Cheese Straws
Adapted from Southern Living, December 2007

1 1/2 cups (5 oz.) shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese*
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces and softened
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 tsp. dried crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon half-and-half

· Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
· Combine first 5 ingredients in a food processor; pulse in 5-second intervals until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add half-and-half, and process 10 seconds or until dough forms a ball.
· Turn dough out onto a well floured surface, and roll into an rectangle (about 1/8 inch thick). Cut dough with a sharp knife into 1/4- to 1/2-inch-wide strips, dipping knife in flour after each cut to ensure clean cuts. Place strips on ungreased baking sheets.
· Bake for12-14 minutes or until ends are slightly browned. Cool on baking sheets on a wire rack 30 minutes.

*I use cracker barrel sharp cheddar and grate the cheese using a hand grater. Trying to grate in a food processor makes the cheese too fine in turn making the dough too soft.

I like to make a double batch, if I can resist from eating the block of cheddar. Straws can be also be made ahead and frozen.

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