Homemade Cheese Things: An Attempt
Last Friday I asked all of you suggest junk foods that I might try to replicate at home. The overwhelming response was for me to try to make Cheetos at home.
It turns out Cheetos are made with magic.
What I did do was make pretty darn good little cheese snack things that are slightly crunchy and taste like a cheese cloud.
Homemade Cheese Snacks
Yield: Makes, like, a 100.
Pate A Choux Dough:
1 cup water
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Masa corn flour
4 large eggs
2 cups (about 5 ounces) grated cheddar cheese
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Silpat Baking Mat
1) In a medium pan, melt butter, water, and salt over medium heat. Once melted, stir in flours and stir until dough is combined and smooth, a few minutes. Keep the pot over the heat as you stir it.
2) Remove dough from heat and let it cool to room temperature, then mix in eggs one at a time either with a stand mixer or with a large wooden spoon.
3) Mix in cheddar cheese and cayenne pepper (optional) well.
4) Pipe dough onto a baking sheet lined with silpat mats or parchment paper. Bake in a pre-heated 400 degree Fahrenheit oven until they are cooked through and slightly crunchy, about 11-12 minutes. Remove and let cool before eating.
I think I roughly know how Cheetos are made based on what’s in the ingredients. The first two ingredients are corn meal and oil so basically they mix corn meal with water, extrude it, fry it, and then toss it with seasoning.
I did not try this method although I might in the future.
Instead, I thought I might be able to get close to a cheeto type thing by baking a very light dough until it was nice and crunchy. Instead of tossing the snacks in cheese flavoring, I just mixed in real cheddar. This made them delicious, but far from the Cheetos flavor that was expected.
I’ll just walk you through what I did even though it didn’t result in a Cheeto exactly.
I started by making a simple pate a choux dough. Even though this dough sounds fancy as hell, it’s actually really easy to make.
Just melt some butter with water and salt in a medium bowl.
Once that is melted you’ll need your flour. I used a mixture of all-purpose flour and corn flour to try to get closer to the ingredients in the Cheetos. This didn’t change the texture as far as I could tell, but it didn’t hurt.
Then just stir the flour into the hot liquid until it’s nice and smooth.
Then let the dough cool a bit so you don’t cook your eggs. Use a stand mixer or a large spoon to beat in the eggs one at a time. This will really change the texture of the dough and make it silky smooth.
I also thought it might help to mix in some actual cheese. Again, this was good but nothing like the snack food I was trying to replicate.
Once my cheese was mixed in, I just scooped my dough into a large plastic bag, snipped the end off one of the corners, and piped the dough onto a baking sheet lined with a Silpat baking sheet. You could also just use parchment paper though.
To be honest, I was super-excited when I saw how well these were piping onto the sheet. I thought I was in business.
Then I just baked them in a 400 degree oven for about 11-12 minutes until they were puffed and slightly crunchy.
Where I went Wrong
I had no problem snacking on these but you would never eat one and say, “Wow. That’s just like a Cheeto.”
For one, they aren’t crispy enough. They were slightly crispy, but also kind of chewy. Not a bad texture, but not really what I was going for.
They were also hollow which is the signature characteristic of pate a choux. (See: Cream puffs).
I might try a homemade version again in the next week or two. If I do try these again, I will fry them. And I will use fake seasoning. And possibly magic.