These easy cheese straws, made with sharp cheddar cheese, and with a spicy kick are the perfect salty snack for your next holiday, New Year’s Eve, or really ANY, party. They are super quick and simple to make, and you can bake them a couple of days ahead of when you need them. I wouldn’t make them too far ahead though, because you may find that they’ve disappeared long before the party ;).
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I’m of the opinion that no cocktail party or friendly gathering of any kind where alcohol is served is complete without a salty snack. Something you can grab quickly and pop into your mouth between sentences, without breaking the flow of conversation.
I mean, something that won’t dribble down your chin, or force you to make awkward faces as you try to suck the remnants from between your teeth. Something that doesn’t require a napkin, or any assembly whatsoever. You get the idea.
I should tell you that these easy cheese straws are definitely quickest to make in a food processor, but you could mix the ingredients by hand too. I haven’t tried this myself, but if you do, you may mind find that the dough requires a bit of kneading to come together, since the grated cheese makes it kind of crumbly.
You could experiment with different hard gratable cheeses. Gruyère, Monterey Jack or asiago would be good options, for instance. I personally love a nice sharp cheddar. Definitely adjust the amount of crushed red pepper to suit your spice tolerance. I find this amount gives just the right dose of kick for my taste.
I see no reason why you couldn’t cut them into different cracker shapes too, if you’re not into straws. I used a pizza wheel to cut the dough quickly, but this fun little tool is handy for this, and for cutting crackers with scalloped edges. Obviously you could use a knife for a straight edge as well.
These easy cheese straws bake up puffy, flaky and buttery. Stay tuned over the next couple of weeks for more make-ahead holiday entertaining ideas!
Spicy Cheddar Cheese Straws
- 6 oz sharp cheddar cheese (1 1/2 cups, grated)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour plus extra for rolling out
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon milk or cream
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet (half sheet pan) with parchment or a silicone baking mat. If your baking sheet is smaller, simply bake in two batches.
In a food processor fitted with the grating attachment, grate the cheese. Remove the grating attachment and put in the chopping blade (you may need to remove the cheese in order to do this. Just put the cheese back in after).
Cut the butter into large pieces and add to the food processor with the cheese. Add the flour, salt and red pepper flakes. Pulse for 10 seconds at a time, until the mixture is crumbly.
Add the milk or cream, and process until the mixture comes together into a ball. About another 15-20 seconds.
Sprinkle a work surface liberally with flour. Roll the dough out into roughly an 8 x 10 inch rectangle. No need to get to get too exact here.
Using a pizza wheel or knife, cut the dough into strips, along the shorter side. Aim for around 1/4 inches wide. If they are too wide, they will bake up softer and less crispy (but still delicious).
Transfer the strips carefully onto the lined baking sheet, setting them about 1/4 inch apart.
Bake in the preheated oven for around 14 minutes, or until the ends start to brown. Cool completely on a rack. Serve at room temperature within about 2 days of baking.