Buttery, crumbly, and packed with sharp cheese and just a bite of pepper, these are addictive and make a great party appetizer or gift. Plus, they are so dang easy! Go ahead and make a double batch. You’ll thank me later.
Makes about 2 half-sheet pans worth
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 to 1 tsp pepper* (depending on the bite you want)
10 tbs butter, cut into rough tbs pieces
1/3 cup finely grated parmesan or romano cheese (1.5 oz)
1/3 cup finely grated Swiss cheese, preferably Gruyere* (1.5oz)
1/2 cup milk
Preheat oven to 350.
If your cheese isn’t grated yet, do so now. Easiest way to get the right amount is to weigh out the necessary blocks of cheese and then grate it finely.
Add flour, salt, and pepper to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse briefly to mix. Add butter, then pulse until it becomes pea-sized pieces (5-10 pulses). Add cheese and pulse 2-3 more times. Finally, add milk and pulse until the dough clumps together and finally balls up. (This will take a bit. At first, it will look like there is no where near enough liquid. Have patience and keep pulsing. It will start to form teeny, tiny balls — keep going. It will start to clump together — keep going. Go until it all goes to one side of the food processor and sort of rises on top of the blade and looks almost completely uniform. Now it’s done!)
Turn ball of dough out onto a clean surface and roll into a cylinder, about 1 inch in diameter. It should be a dream to work with! Similar to modeling clay. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and chill for an hour (and up to 24).
Once chilled, remove cylinder and cut into 32 even pieces. Take one piece and roll into a thin straw, about a foot long. Transfer to baking sheet, then continue with remaining pieces. There is no need to leave much space between the straws — they don’t grow much.
Bake for 12-15 minutes, rotating pans if necessary for even browning. Straws are done when nicely browned on the bottom and getting a touch of color on the tips. (Err on the side of baking longer as that ensures they will be crisp and crumbly.) Immediately cut straws in desired length, either into halves or thirds. (You can’t cut these once cooled — they will shatter.)
Let cool completely, then enjoy! Straws will store for up to a week or two in an airtight container.
The recipe is actually called Alumettes au Fromage (cheese matchsticks). I found cheese straws easier and more intuitive. But go with the french if you want to sound all fancy!
The original recipe doesn’t have any pepper — I added it by accident the first time I made them because I was looking at the recipe on the next page…! Once I added it, though, I couldn’t imagine them without it.
I’ve only made these with Swiss cheese, so can’t recommend a substitute. If you do try a substitute, aim for a cheese with similar melting characteristics to Swiss. Maybe Cheddar would work, but my guess is that it will be too greasy. It’s tempting, though, because the cheese amount is really pretty small…maybe it wouldn’t make too much of a difference. Perhaps if you upped the parmesan? I may have to test it out myself and report back! :)
Adapted from Cookies Unlimited by Nick Malgieri.