Mom has been making cheese straws frequently (that is an understatement) for the past few years. Last year she got all 3 daughters our own cookie press. She searched high and low for the best one and landed on Mercato press below. I am embarrassed to say I have only used mine twice (on my own). People are fascinated with cheese straws. The ingredients are simple but parts are labor intensive. The best part...they are WONDERFUL to freeze and frozen. In fact, I love them right out of the freezer. That is not necessarily a good thing and is why I had to make another batch for a party in a few weeks.
*Mom said she bakes hers for 15 minutes. No wonder mine were burned!*
This is the first labor intensive part. You do NOT want to purchase pre-shredded cheese. It is too dry and will not hold the ingredients together. In fact, I had a block of both Publix and Kraft sharp cheddar. The Publix brand worked much better. The Kraft would fall apart in chunks while grating. I look for the cheese when it is on special. You can see the recipe card reads you can substitute other cheese for cheddar. I haven't tried it but if I do, I will let you know.
Note: Often extra sharp cheddar is drier than what is needed. I always use sharp cheddar. (Since this original post I got married and was gifted the most amazing food processor that does this grating for me in a matter of seconds...not as much of an arm workout!)
Measure the dry ingredients and place it in a gallon zip-lock bag below (flour, salt, baking powder, pepper). Give it a good shake. Add the shredded cheese and shake again.
Melt your 2 sticks of unsalted butter in a large mixing bowl that will hold all ingredients.
Now comes labor intensive part #2. Wash your hands well (please), pour dry ingredients into bowl with butter and mix with your hands. You will want to knead until it becomes play-dough. You want to get rid of all crumbles. It takes awhile but be patient. It will eventually look like my picture below.
Now time for the cookie press. This is the kind we use.
This cookie tip is what creates the "straws."
Roll the dough in logs for the cookie press.
I will admit this part KILLS my hands. Cue labor intensive part #3. The dough is hard to push through the press. Today I learned my oven mitt provides some protection!
I have two large INSULATED cookie sheets I use for my oven that are perfect for the top and bottom shelves. Don't worry if they break and are not perfectly straight. The below cookie sheet is a fluke and the best I've ever done. You will cut them after they cook anyway!
Cook at 325 for about 15 minutes. Your oven can vary so keep an eye on them. They are not tasty brown so do not overcook. Once they come out of the oven, split the straws in desired lengths with a plastic spatula (don't want to scratch your cookie sheet).
The recipe is easily doubled if you would like (and have the self control) to keep some in the freezer. To give you an idea, the recipe above made enough to fill these three containers. Mom found these containers at WalMart and are the perfect size once sliced.
Now, I will have to send this link to my coworkers. There were many conversations around the baby shower table on how you make cheese straws!