Homemade cheese straws are a delicately crunchy accompaniment for soups and salads, and a traditional offering at any Southern cocktail hour. Two things distinguish Southern cheese straws from other kinds -- the buttery richness of the dough, and the fact that they taste much better if you prepare them a day in advance.
Things You'll Need
- Baking sheet
- Nonstick cooking spray or parchment paper
- Cheddar or other firm cheese, grated
- Cayenne pepper
- Cookie press (optional)
Preheat your oven to the temperature specified in your recipe. That can vary from 325 degrees Fahrenheit to 425 F, so pay careful attention.
Coat a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray or line it with parchment paper to keep the cheese straws from sticking.
Cream together the butter and cheese using a food processor, stand mixer or hand mixer. You need approximately 1 stick of butter for every 1/2 pound of cheese, though some recipes call for more butter. Traditional Southern cheese straws call for sharp cheddar cheese, but you can substitute any firm cheese such as fontina, Gruyere, Havarti or even mild cheddar.
Mix together the dry ingredients. For every 1/2 pound of cheese you need approximately 2 cups of flour and 1 teaspoon of salt, though recipes vary. Add the cayenne pepper, mustard and paprika to taste, and mix with a fork or whisk until they are thoroughly incorporated.
Combine the creamed butter and cheese with the mixed flour, salt and spices until you have a smooth, stiff dough. Roll the dough into a log. Wrap it in plastic cling wrap and either let it rest for 15 to 20 minutes or put it in the refrigerator until 20 minutes or so before you intend to bake the straws.
Fill a cookie press with the rested dough and attach a star-shaped tip to the end. Pipe the dough onto your prepared baking sheet, keeping the length of the cheese straws as consistent as you can. If you do not have a cookie press, slice the log crosswise into rounds. Roll the rounds between your palms into straws. Lay them on the cookie sheet and score them lightly with a fork to create the distinctive fluted surface.
Bake your cheese straws according to the time on your recipe, usually about 15 to 20 minutes. Let them cool, and transfer them to an airtight container lined with paper towels. Return leftovers to the container between layers of parchment paper and they will keep for two to three weeks.
Tips & Warnings
- Sprinkle black and white sesame seeds, everything mix, dried peppers or garlic flakes on your cheese sticks for an unexpected bit of flavor.
- Do not overbake cheese straws or they will become dry and tough.
- Photo Credit LisaIson/iStock/Getty Images
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