Cheese Straws are the elegantly slender couture models of Southern party appetizers. And like couture models, they can’t just be put together at a moment’s notice. Typically the dough is carefully rolled and cut or extruded from a pastry bag or vintage hand-cranked cookie press. Tasty but not easy. Enter the cheese wafer, the cheese straw’s good-time, slice-and-bake cousin. Like a proper straw, this recipe binds the least amount of flour possible into the most possible amount of butter and cheese and accomplishes the feat without a lot of fuss. Keep a log of cheese wafer dough in the fridge and in twenty minutes you can have a hot, salty, savory appetizer to serve guests, expected or otherwise.
Simple Slice-And-Bake Cheese Wafers
The cheese straw’s good-time cousin
photo: Peter Frank Edwards
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, sliced
2 cups coarsely grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling on top
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
Optional garnishes: pecan halves, sliced Manzanilla olives, thyme leaves
Combine the butter, cheeses, salt, cayenne, and flour in a food processor and pulse several times until crumbly, then process for 30 seconds, until a mass of dough forms. Transfer the dough to a sheet of parchment paper and roll into a log about 2 inches in diameter, wrap in Tootsie-Roll fashion, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Cut the chilled dough into ¼-inch slices and arrange them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Top with any of the garnishes if you like. Bake for 12 minutes, or until golden and crisp. Immediately sprinkle with salt, then transfer to a wire rack to cool. The wafers can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
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