Cheese, salty, and crunchy with just a hint of pepper. It is even possible to adequately describe a cheese straw? I’m not sure how wide-spread this snack is. In the Deep South, it’s a given that there will be cheese straws at any baby shower, bridal tea, or wedding reception. I’ve never seen a gluten free version, but I recently converted my grandmother’s recipe to use gluten free flours, and I’m glad to say that they tasted just like I remembered.
Grandmother Somerville made the most amazing cheese straws. They were, hands down, the best that I’ve ever eaten. And, they were one of my very, very favorite foods to cook with her. I loved everything about it. Grating the cheese. Mixing in the flour. And her hands holding mine as she helped me guide the cookie press down the baking sheet, making long thin lines of cheese straws.
And when we were done, there was always just a little dough left over that the cookie press couldn’t squeeze out. Grandmother would give it to my brother and I and we would roll it out into long cheese straw snakes that inched around the edges of the baking sheet.
Until last week I had not had my Grandmother’s cheese straws since my mom, and maid of honor and I baked them for my wedding reception. Grandmother was no longer able to help us, but the fact that we were making her recipe for my wedding means that, in my memories at least, she was still very much a part of my wedding day. As she would have wanted to be.
Whew! That got my crying! Here’s the recipe before I turn into a watering pot.
Grandmother’s Gluten Free Cheese Straws
Grate cheese and leave at room temperature overnight. Melt butter and allow it to cool to room temperature. Mix the flour and other dry ingredients together. Then add the butter and flour to the cheese. Mix together by well – you’ll need to use your hands. Use a cookie press to shape the dough into strips on a flat cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees until firm, but not brown. Remove the straws from the cookie sheet once they’ve cooled a bit and break them into two or three inch pieces. Store the cheese straws in plastic zip-top bags.
A few thoughts: You have to watch these like a hawk! If they brown, then they taste burnt. These generally take more than 5 minutes to cook, but less than 10. However, given the variations in oven temperature, just keep your eye on them until you figure out how many minutes it takes your oven to cook them.
My grandmother used a small star-shaped tip on her cookie press, so that the cheese straws were long and crinkly. My cookie press doesn’t have a small star, so I used the ribbon tip. I thought that it was a little harder to get a continuous strip with the tip, but I may just be out of practice.
Oh, and if you can find it, use Cracker Barrel’s Sharp Cheddar Cheese. It’s the secret ingredient.
You’re going to be stuffed after you start snacking on these. But next time you get hungry, try one of my other gluten free snacks.