photography Elizabeth Messina

These seem to go by a variety of names from Cheese Straws to Cheese Pennies to Cheese Coins. My grandmother, Jean Darling, makes a version of them with rice crispies in them to give them even more crunch: Granny's Cheese Crispies. No matter what you call them, they are sure to be devoured. Everyone loves them and they are perfect with Champagne, wine or beer. A great nibbler before any kind of party from a formal wine dinner to a casual tailgate party.

And for those who like to plan ahead and get all the work out of the way before guests arrive, they are ideal to make in advance. You can freeze the dough up to three months in advance. You can also bake them off a day or two ahead of time and keep them in an airtight tin. And speaking of tins: put some in a tin and wrap them up as a gift for friends and neighbors.

Makes 5 dozen crisps

1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
2 cups (about 8 ounces) grated extra sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup unbleached white flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon Coleman's dry mustard, optional
1/2 cup roasted pecans, chopped, optional

Place butter in a large mixing bowl and cream until pale yellow. Add the cheese and mix well.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt, cayenne pepper, dry mustard, and roasted pecans. Gradually add the flour mixture to the cheese/butter mixture. It will be fairly stiff and hard to mix. Stir until just combined.

Put dough on wax paper and roll into logs 1" in diameter. Wrap plastic wrap around the wax paper logs and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or until they are firm and hard. They can be refrigerated for up to a week or frozen for up to 3 months.

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Slice the logs into rounds that are 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch thick. Place rounds on a baking sheet tray lined with parchment paper.

Bake for about 12 minutes or until they turn golden. Transfer to a wire cooling rack. When cool store in an airtight container. This can also be done in advance.


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