Signature Dish of Skyhooks

Sky's Family Cheese Straws

Sky's Family Cheese Straws

1 pound (16 ounces, 454 grams) extra sharp cheddar cheese, cold and shredded 2 cups (12 ounces; 340 grams) all purpose flour 2 sticks (8 ounces; 230 grams) butter, cold - DO NOT USE margerine 3/4 tsp. cayenne (more or less, to taste*) salt -- to sprinkle before cooking

(NOTE: recipe can be halved for convenience)

Add cayenne pepper to flour and sift together, about 3 or 4 times. Reserve about a 1/2-cup of the flour-cayenne mixture in a separate container for later use. Add the remaining flour-cayenne mixture to stand mixer bowl with the paddle attachment (DO NOT use a hand mixer).

Cut the cold butter into many small pieces (pats) and add to stand mixer bowl with the sifted flour-cayenne. Use lowest speed setting on stand mixer to combine the butter with the flour-cayenne until small or tiny "pebbles" are formed, as if preparing pastry or pie dough. About 2 or 3 minutes (if even that long).

Shred/grate the cold extra sharp cheddar cheese and add the reserved 1/2-cup of flour-cayenne in intervals to mix/shake with and "coat" the separate cheese "shreds". With stand mixer turned on lowest speed setting, add small handfuls of flour-coated grated cheese to the butter-flour-cayenne mixture. Keep adding a small handful at a time until the dough begins to form and ball-up on the mixer paddle. At this point, change the mixer paddle for the dough hook. Continue until all the grated cheese has been added and is thoroughly combined and blended. This will take about 6 to 10 minutes.

Let the dough rest** for about 1 to 4 hours at room temperature. The purpose of the resting period is to allow the dough to fully come to room temperature. It's much easier to work the dough from the cookie press if it isn't cold. If the dough is still too cold and stiff, then it will not extrude very well from the cookie press.

I use a battery-powered cookie press with a die that is flat on the bottom and serrated on top. A manual cookie press works just as well.

Use a cookie press to extrude long ribbons of cheese straw dough onto a cookie sheet, laying the ribbons closely next to each other. For me, a batch of cheese straws uses three cookie sheets when I make them. Shake salt (to taste) on top of cheese straw ribbons prior to cooking.

Cook cheese straws in preheated 260F degree oven for about 50-60 minutes (or more). Cooking time WILL VARY depending the individual oven, so keep an eye on the cheese straws. Every 15 minutes or so, rotate the cookie sheets horizontally and vertically in the oven so the cheese straws cook evenly.

Once cheese straws have become 'toasty' in color and are no longer pale, remove from the oven and let cool. Be careful; it’s very easy to over cook the cheese straws. Break cheese straws to preferred size, and store at room temperature in a closed tin or plastic container with cover.

*I use 1.25 tsp. of cayenne pepper for a rather hot and spicy after-taste.

**If the cheese straw dough is to be cooked other than immediately after the "resting" period, then do not rest. Instead, immediately put the dough in the refrigerator for storage in a covered bowl/container or wrapped in cellophane. However, the dough needs to be removed from the fridge several hours before it's cooked to room temperature.

For step-by-step pictures please see the Tips 'n Tricks Section

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