Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Cheese Straws

Ah, cheese straws. Is any food so reminiscent of my childhood? One bite, and I'm back in my grandmother's kitchen. And oddly enough, she didn't make them as straws, but as crisps, flattened with the back of a fork (and containing, if I'm not mistaken ... Rice Krispies??).

So, if you don't have a cookie press, you can still make these. Grandmother always did. She must have also made them without a food processor, but I don't, and I'm not even exactly sure how to modify the technique, so I'll leave that to you.

Right away, I know I'll get push-back for using a cheese other than cheddar, but give this a chance. Cheddar has a higher fat content and a sharper taste, and actually gets in the way of the ideal texture and flavor. Try it my way. Once. Then, do as you will.

I switched from butter to shortening after my first attempt (using butter) went flat in the oven and came out a little too delicate in texture. I may try a combination, next time, but I'm pretty happy with these results.

Recipe inspired by related recipes in The Joy of Cooking (Rombauer & Becker) and in Gluten-Free Holiday Baking (Ellen Brown).


about 1/2 lb gruyere cheese
1/2 c. standard GF blend (I used Bob's Red Mill)
1/4 c. sweet rice flour
1/4 tsp. salt
about 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
4 Tbs. non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening (e.g, Spectrum brand)
a few Tbs heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a few baking sheets with parchment paper.

Grate the cheese, using the medium grate attachment of the food processor. Remove the shredded cheese from the food processor bowl. There should be about 1 1/2 cups. There is no need to wash the food processor.

Combine flours, salt and cayenne in the food processor bowl and fit the blade attachment. Pulse a few times to mix. Add the shortening, then process until the mixture becomes fine granules. Add the cheese, and process until homogeneous. The dough will be dry.

While processing continuously, add a tablespoon or two of cream. Continue to add small amounts of cream until the dough just comes together in a ball that travels around the bowl, with the blade.

Remove the dough to a cookie press and spritz out in straws. Return any short pieces to the bowl, to try again. They can be placed pretty close together, as they shouldn't spread too much.

Bake at 350F for 15 minutes, until golden. Cool thoroughly, and store airtight.