Junk Food Junkies: Cheese Straws (and Squares)
The girlfriend and I were wanting some junk food last weekend and one of our absolute favorite snack foods are Cheez-Its. Salty, cheesy, and crunchy. What more could you want? Well, I wanted to make my own and turns out it isn’t that hard.
Granted these don’t look exactly like Cheez-Its, maybe because they don’t have any artificial colors or flavors, but I can assure you that they taste almost identical to the salty snack.
The recipe for these guys is really simple. As you can imagine, it requires a bunch of cheese.
Homemade Cheese Crackers
Yield: 4 cups crackers
1/2 pound cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 pound Parmesan, grated
2 cups all-purpose flour
8 Tablespoons chilled unsalted butter
1) Start by grating both cheeses.
2) Using your hands or a fork, coarsely mix in your butter with your flour. Shoot for pea-sized lumps. It helps if your butter is chilled.
3) Now mix in all your cheese. Again, use that pastry cutter or your clean fingers to integrate the cheese, flour, and butter well.
4) Add a few tablespoons of ice water to the dough to help shape it. You want to be able to work with it but you don't want it too moist. I had to add about 4 Tablespoons to my dough before I could work with it.
5) Divide dough into two and wrap these in plastic and let them chill for up to 3 days. You can roll them out right away but they will be easier to work with if they are chilled.
6) Roll dough out onto a floured surface until it's 1/4-inch thick.
7) Cut dough into squares, strips, or whatever.
8) Lightly grease baking sheets and sprinkle crackers with coarse salt.
9) Bake these guys at 450 for just eight minutes. Ten if you want them extra crispy.
Recipe adapted from How to Cook Everything.
Start by grating your cheese so you can get that out of the way.
Then you want to coarsely mix in your butter with your flour. Kind of like a pie crust you want pea-sized lumps. It helps if your butter is chilled. A pastry cutter is a good tool to use for this or your fingers.
Now mix in all your cheese. It is a lot. You will doubt the amount of cheese. Never doubt that you are putting in too much cheese. It is basically impossible. Again, use that pastry cutter to integrate the cheese, flour, and butter well.
Most likely you won’t be able to work with the dough so add a few tablespoons of ice water to help out. Go one tablespoon at a time. You want to be able to work with it but you don’t want it too moist. I had to add about 4 Tablespoons to my dough before I could work with it.
Then put your dough out on your counter and shape it into two even balls. Wrap these in plastic and let them chill for up to 3 days. You might be able to freeze them but really you probably want to make these as soon as possible. You don’t have to chill them at all though. You can just roll them out right away if you want.
This dough is similar to pie crust dough. It is a bit finicky when rolling out. The good news is that we don’t have to fit it in a 9 inch pan. In fact, we are just going to make little squares with it so it really doesn’t matter the shape as long is it is thin enough. You are looking for 1/4 inch thick on the dough.
Now take a sharp knife and cut out whatever shapes you want! The squares are the standard obviously, but you could do strips, twists, anything you can think of. I don’t recommend the balls though. They didn’t really work out that well.
Make sure you grease your pan with Pam or a bit of butter before you slap your designs down. Also, sprinkle them with some kosher salt if you want.
Bake these guys at 450 for just eight minutes. Ten if you want them extra crispy.
These are so delicious and are great to have in a bowl at a party. People will try them and comment that they taste like the store bought variety – except better. Betsy and I ended up eating an entire tray of these without a problem.
If you have a favorite junk food that you want to see me make, leave it in a comment or shoot me an email! I have a running list.