Summary: Growing up in Louisiana, cheese straws -spicy, orange-cheddar, stick-shaped treats- were de rigueur on many party tables. I adore them, and this recipe, by Kim Severson, is the one I've found that most perfectly matches the taste-memory I have of the ones back home. This recipe is a snap to put together but pressing the dough through a cookie press can take some time. That said, double this recipe because I guarantee everyone will love these and eat more than they thought humanly possible. These get better over time so if you can make them a week or two in advance, do! You can make the dough a day ahead (through bullet point 3) and then press just before cooking.
Yield: 40 - 50 straws
- 1 ½ cups flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika (aka pimentón)
- ½ pound sharp orange Cheddar, room temperature (I often use a bit more than a half-pound)
- ½ cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
Preheat your oven to 350° Fahrenheit and, if you'll be cooking these today, line two half-sheet or cookie pans with parchment paper.
Grate the cheese and set aside. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together the flour, salt, cayenne and paprika. When combined, add the grated cheese and butter and process until the dough is smooth and looks and has the texture of, per Severson, Play-Doh. You can also make the dough in a stand mixer by creaming cheese and butter until smooth, then adding the dry ingredients and processing on low speed until smooth and evenly combined.
Shape the dough into a cylinder, wrap with plastic wrap or parchment and allow to rest at room temperature for 20 minutes. Or store in the refrigerator until ready to bake.
If the dough is not already at room temperature, bring it there. Pack it into a cookie press fitted with a star disk, and pipe four-inch ribbons onto your parchment-lined baking sheets. Repeat with remaining dough. You can also hand-roll the dough into ropes and then cut it into shorter segments, but I'll be honest in telling you that those aren't nearly as pretty. I don't think they taste as good either because the star-shape makes small peaks and valleys that crisp nicely during the cooking time.
Bake for 13 - 15 minutes or until the edges just begin to brown. Store between sheets of parchment or waxed paper in an airtight container. They'll keep at least three weeks!