cracklin' cheese straws
Hold up, they don’t love you like I love you. And you know how I know? They didn’t make you cheese straws. But I did. Never mind that I’m just leaving them here so unceremoniously at 4:30pm on New Year’s Eve. Never mind that the whole idea I had in mind when I promised to bring you appetizers was to bring you something timely, apropos that you could maybe make for a party.
If I’m being honest (and when am I not?) this is an accurate analogy for the way this year has gone for me when it came to making grown-up life decisions. I’d start my due diligence early and give myself what I thought would be plenty of time to sort things out, only to be left at the eleventh hour with no answer in sight, thinking “what the hell am I supposed to do?”
And yet, things keep turning out *okay* somehow. Some things have even been more than okay. The intuition I’ve been forced to exercise at the last minute hasn’t yet failed me. Even when all my pre-planning thought and effort doesn’t add up to what I’d intended, the time that I spent trying was enough for me to make the best of the situation.
There’s something to be said for wallerin’ around in a feeling, you know? Letting it sit next to you, inviting it in for a visit and just being around it. It brings a certain clarity that I can’t figure out how to solve for otherwise. I just have to let the weird vibes hang out so I can feel the inevitable angst, make peace with the worst bits, and keep it moving (as my friend Dari says). And I guess I’m finally okay with that being my process for handling business. 2018 Revelation in the books.
These cracklin’ cheese straw-wafter-thingies would’ve been perfect for your NYE get together, and if you’ve got a brunch tomorrow and you’re still trying to figure out what to bring, they won’t let you down. They can be made with bodega ingredients (which you already know I’m all about), and are not fussy in the least. A friend of mine referred to them as “Southern Delights” earlier, which is pretty spot on. They are very southern, made with real cheese, real butter, and highly processed cereal. I love them so much.
The cheese straw recipe of my southern memories is made with a cookie press, and so not accessible for everyone (I mean, do you own a cookie press?), but all you need for these is a big bowl, a food processor, and a fork. All of which most of us could scrounge up, even if not until the very last minute. Happy New Years Eve, friends!
Cracklin’ Cheese Straws, from Mal R’s recipe files
10 oz extra sharp cheddar cheese
2 sticks (8 oz) salted butter, at room temperature
½ tsp cayenne pepper
Pinch of kosher salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cups rice krispies
Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C).
In a food processor, blend the shredded cheese, butter, and cayenne until smooth. Add the flour and pulse until you can’t see the flour anymore and it starts to look like dough. [See pic above.]
Turn the dough out into a large mixing bowl and knead in any four that hasn’t already been incorporated. Fold in the rice krispies, exercising all the patience. This part is a wee bit messy, but it’ll be fine. Portion dough out by the tablespoon and roll into balls. Place each ball on a cookie sheet about 1 inch apart. If your dough is really soft (i.e., your kitchen is warm), put them in the fridge for 20 minutes or so until they’ve firmed up. Very soft dough will spread when baked.
When you are ready to bake, bring the cookings to the colder side of room temperature. Press down to even the thickness with a fork. You can wet the fork to make it slide easier, but my preferred method is to use a dry fork and wipe it off on a paper towel after each cracker is pressed. When you are making the hatch mark don’t lift the fork up, but sliiiiiide it away from the cookie. If you lift up the fork chunks of cracker are guaranteed to come with it. You can repeat the fork press in the perpendicular direction for a little crosshatch action, but the krispies make it to messy IMO. After you’ve made the hatch mark, you might want to smoosh the sides to make them prettier if you’re slightly obsessive and/or your name is Meghan.
Cook for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the edges are starting to brown. Start checking at 10 and go from there. You don’t want them to brown too much. They will continue to cook while cooling on the pan. Remove the crackers to a cooling rack or plate as soon as they are stable enough to be moved (about 2 minutes). Try not to eat them all before your party.