I got, as we say in these parts, a hankerin’ for these. Cheese wafers? Never had them? Well, I think you have met your new favorite snack addiction. Buttery, savory, cheesey, crunchy…perfect served with champagne, cocktails, beer, whatever punch, as an accompaniment to soups and salads, to munch on while sitting and watching the glow of the fireplace and relaxing. I love these things. It is one of those things you try to hide from yourself but, dang it, you remember and haul them out and finish up the tin of them. My Grandma Ninny made steady batches of these from Thanksgiving through Lent. She kept them stored in cake tins. I always keep mine stored in wide mouth, tightly latching glass cannisters.
Some people cut into strips, make without the pecans, make without the pecans but press a pecan half into the top for a festive garnish. it doesn’t matter – it’s all good. A few of these tucked into a spiffy mug or bowl or put on a plate and covered in plastic wrap with a bow on top just drawls, Howdy! Happy Holidays to a neighbor or hostess, coworker, teacher, bus driver, whatever. I like it best to keep for myself, to be perfectly honest. And here in the South, cheese wafers or cheese straws are ubiquitous and show up every where for every occasion. Even in this day and age, every Southern woman has at least two recipes for these. And in this day and age, so do many Southern men.
About the cheese: You can use pre=grated bagged cheese. I don’t recommend it. That stuff is dry and doesn’t have the same flavor or texture as freshly grated cheese. I like to use a good brand of extra sharp cheddar cheese. I hope you try these and enjoy them. I think you will be surprised at how good they are and I think, you will also be surprised at how much you like them.
2 sticks (1/2 pound) butter cut into slices
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese – 8 oz. block
2 cups flour
several dashes of hot sauce
Optional: 1 cup crushed Rice Krispies or finely chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put into a large bowl, the sliced butter. Add on top, the grated cheese. Let sit and soften then mix butter and cheese with hands until blended completely. Add flour and hot sauce (and optional Rice Krispies or chopped pecans) and continue to mix with hands until dough is formed. Roll mixed dough into balls about the size of large marbles and place on ungreased baking sheets. Flatten balls with a fork. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until just lightly brown around edges. Cool and remove from baking sheet. Store in airtight container. Can be frozen in airtight container for later use. Great served with cocktails, champagne or to accompany soups and salads. Makes 5 dozen.
NOTE: on waxed paper, press out dough and cut into strips using one of those fancy fluted pie crust trimmers, if you absolutely must have cheese straws instead of cheese wafers.