Last night I wanted something to snack on. And was feeling specifically for crunchy cheese sticks. So somewhere close to midnight I was mixing up a dough with Gloucester cheese, mustard and cracked black pepper. Fortunately, some sanity came to me, and I only baked a few. Saved the rest in the fridge to bake tonight for my Australia vs Ireland snacking tomorrow. And to take pictures.
And so I thought to myself, I could blog the recipe. I will have to make it again to document the process, but at least there is the finished product to look at! And if I wait, then I won’t have a blog post, and I figured out that regular blogging makes for regular readers (hehehe) These are Late Night Cheese Sticks not just because I made this batch late at night, but that’s pretty much when I spent lots of time developing various baked cheese snacks. From cheese scones, to cheese and pimento pepper rolls to various attempts at cheese straws or sticks. So, voilà.
Late Night Cheese Sticks
- 3 cups flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 1 tsp cracked black pepper
- 1/4 cup vegetable shortening (to make it nice and crispy)
- 1 cup shredded cheese (any cheese you like, but I used Gloucester for the colour and flavour, sharp cheddar would be fine)
- 1 tbsp mustard (or to your liking)
- 1 cup water (variable, enough for a dough that’s not sticky)
2. Add mustard and shortening and rub into the flour until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
3. Add shredded cheese and rub into mixture.
4. Add the water slowly, mixing until mixture forms a dough that’s not sticky. Separate into 2 or 3 sections to work with.
5. Flour your rolling surface well and place your portion of dough on it. Sprinkle some flour on top. Roll out to about 1/2 cm thick. (These sticks won’t really rise much, but will puff up a bit – all to help the crispiness)
6. Cut into thin strips to your liking (about 1 cm wide) and lay on a greased baking sheet. You can twist the strips to form a corkscrew or leave them straight.
7. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown.Depending on your oven, you may need to bake longer for a crunchier stick – test them to get them to your liking.
Store in airtight container or bag. Serve with salsa, or your favourite dip, or eat them hot and crispy all by themselves. Feel free to add more cheese. This recipe makes enough to fill 2.5 1-quart bags. About 5 or 6 dozen sticks 10 cm x 1 cm. They were eaten before I thought to really count them.
UPDATE: 12 April 2010 – I posted a variation on the method of baking these, which I will repeat here for completeness (you just need an additional 1/2-1/3 cup of shredded (Parmesan) cheese) –
- Mix the dough as per the recipe, and roll out one-third of the dough to 1/2 cm thick.
- Sprinkle a handful of shredded Parmesan all over the top of the dough, then fold the dough carefully over and over (at least 5 times) until you have a small brick. Repeat for the remaining portions of the dough.
- Wrap each portion in waxed paper, place them inside a resealable plastic bag and refrigerate for a couple hours or overnight.
- Preheat oven to 375 deg F. Spray/grease baking sheets. Use one brick at a time, leave the others in the fridge to stay firm and cool.
- On a lightly floured surface, press or roll out a brick to a rectangle, with the short side about 6 cm, to about 1 cm thick. Using your big sharp chef’s knife, in one smooth rocking motion, carefully slice the brick into 1/4-1/2 cm thin strips (almost like a julienne). The dough should be firm enough after the refrigeration to allow easy handling this way – and it is much easier than rolling out flat and cutting into strips.
- Place the strips on the baking sheet, with 1cm space between them and bake for about 15 minutes till golden (brown on the bottom) and crunchy.
As you can see the textures are a bit different – the layers with the cheese make for a lovely flavoured and extra crunchy cheese stick, with a double burst of cheese. And the little brown bubbles of baked cheese are beautiful and delicious.
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