Homemade Cheese Straws
For Puff Pastry:
- In a mixing bowl combine flour, salt, and butter. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until butter breaks up slightly (about 1 minute). Add water and beat until mixture just barely comes together. Do not overwork. (Or combine in a food processor using pulse mechanism.)
- Shape dough into a ball and place on a lightly floured surface. Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll dough into a 12x7-inch rectangle. Fold into thirds from a short side as if you were folding a letter. Give the dough package a quarter turn to the right, lightly flour the work surface and the top of the dough again; roll out dough again. Fold dough into thirds and give dough a quarter turn as before; roll out again. Repeat this rolling/folding process two more times for a total of four turns. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3 hours. Remove dough from refrigerator for 10 minutes and repeat the rolling/folding process two more times. Rewrap dough in plastic and chill for 2 hours before using.
For Cheese Straws:
- In a small bowl place egg and water; beat to combine. Set egg wash aside. In another bowl, stir together cheese, cayenne pepper, and paprika; set aside.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll puff pastry out into a 16x9-inch rectangle. Brush top of dough with egg wash and evenly sprinkle with half of the cheese mixture. Using a lightly floured rolling pin, press the cheese into the dough with a light rolling motion. Turn dough over and repeat brushing on egg wash, sprinkling cheese mixture, and rolling.
- Using a pizza cutter, trim edges of the dough. Cut rectangle in half lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 3/4-inch-wide strips.
- Line baking sheets with parchment paper and sprinkle parchment lightly with flour. Pick up a dough strip; holding both ends, stretch gently, twist, and place on prepared baking sheet. Repeat, leaving 1-1/2 inches between each straw. Place cheese straws in refrigerator or freezer until firm.
- Bake in a 425 degree F oven about 12 minutes or until well puffed. Give baking sheet a half turn. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F and bake for 15 to 18 minutes more or until cheese straws are light brown. Remove from oven and allow cheese straw to cool for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove cheese straws from baking sheet while still warm. Serve warm or cool completely on a wire rack. Makes about 4-1/2 dozen.
From the Test Kitchen
Puff pastry dough may be made ahead and frozen for up to 2 months or refrigerated for up to 3 days. If frozen, let dough thaw in refrigerator overnight. Remove dough from refrigerator 10 to 15 minutes before rolling out. Pastry may be rolled, cut into straws, and chilled for up to 1 day in advance. Bake as directed.