More great party fare. Yes, you could just buy some readymade cheese straws from a shop, but these are so much more delectable and you’ll know exactly what’s in them and be able to control the addition of any flavourings. They tend to disappear lightning-fast, so it’s probably worth making a couple of batches if you have more than a few guests coming over. I like to make them in the shape of feet for comedy value (you can buy the cutter here), but sometimes it may be more appropriate to stick to simple rounds or stars…it’s up to you!
This recipe was given to me by my wonderful godmother, probably the best cook I know, who used to make them for us every Christmas, along with the most fabulous mince pies and a Christmas tree (sadly not life-size) constructed entirely of dark chocolate and nuts.
85g butter, very cold
85g plain flour
85g cheddar cheese, the stronger the better
salt and pepper
seasonings: mustard powder or cayenne pepper, about half a teaspoon of either – optional
beaten egg or milk to glaze
sesame seeds or chopped walnuts for decorating – optional
Cut the butter into small cubes and rub it into the flour. This is best done with a stainless steel pastry blender or two knives, rather than your hands – it will help to keep everything cool and will improve the texture of the cooked biscuits.
Finely grate the cheese and add it to the mixture, along with the salt and pepper and any seasoning you fancy. Keep cutting through with two knives until a ball of pastry starts to form (you shouldn’t need to add any extra liquid because of the oil in the cheese). Knead lightly on a floured board and refrigerate, wrapped in clingfilm, for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 190ºC. Roll out the chilled pastry until it is about 4mm thick and then cut out your shapes and place on an ungreased baking tray.
Brush the tops with beaten egg or milk, and add the seeds or nuts to decorate – I actually prefer them without, but it can be nice to have some variety if you’re making hundreds.
Cook for 10 minutes until golden brown. Obviously the number of biscuits you’ll get will depend on the size of your cutter!