One our family's favorite recipes during the holidays and pretty much all year long is Granny's Cheese Cookies. This is my grandmother's recipe for little cheese wafers that taste sort of like cheese straws but are easier to make because you don't have to push the dough through a press. My mom makes them for almost every occasion and gives them as gifts during the holidays, so I am trying to follow the family tradition.
However . . . Mine never seem to turn out just like hers! I cannot figure it out. I follow the exact same recipe. I follow her instructions to use margarine instead of butter, to use only New York State sharp cheddar cheese, and to shape them into small balls, just smaller than the size of a quarter. Still, they never seem to taste just like hers. All of my friends love the ones I make, so it's not like they're a complete disaster. But I never think they are as good as Mama's. Now I'm wondering if the difference is the cookie sheet she uses. Stay tuned for this mystery to be solved.
I almost had a mishap when I made them last week, though, and this mistake involved the margarine. (Really, you have to use margarine. I made them with butter once time and they spread out way too much.) I made the recipe and used the margarine that was in my refrigerator and the cheese cookies just did not spread out as much as they usually do and they seemed a bit tough. When I looked more closely at the carton of margarine, I saw that it contained only 50% vegetable oil. (Regular margarine has 80% vegetable oil.) Now I know not to use light margarines or reduced-fat products for baking, but this carton did not say "light" or "reduced-fat" anywhere on the label. It was only when I looked at the small print that I saw the 50% vegetable oil. So be careful when you are buying margarine and make sure that you use only the ones with 75-80% vegetable oil for baking. I made them again using 80% vegetable oil margarine and the cookies turned out better - richer and more delicate. Both versions tasted fine, but there was a noticeable difference in texture and color.
I'm thinking that next year I'm just going to hire Mama to make all of my cheese cookies and I'll treat her to a day at the spa.
Granny's Cheese Cookies
2 sticks butter or margarine, melted 8 ounces shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (don't use pre-shredded cheese) 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper 1/2 teaspoon salt 2 cups all-purpose flour 2 cups Rice Krispies cereal
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Pour melted margarine over shredded cheese and stir until blended. Add red pepper, salt and flour, and stir well until all ingredients are combined. Add cereal and stir well. Shape dough into small balls and place on a baking sheet. Flatten slightly with a fork. Bake 20 minutes or until very lightly browned. Yield: 3 dozen
See our collection of 10 Cheese Straw Recipes if you need new ideas for cheese wafers or cheese straws.