Cheese straws, cheese crackers, cheese wafers, cheese crisps -- whatever you call them, they have been a part of my culinary history for as long as I can remember.
Surprisingly, I have run into quite a few folks who have never tasted cheese straws. Maybe they are new to you as well. They are as simple as a few ingredients, but there is an art to making them that has eluded many a baker, including myself. I've tried at least a hundred techniques, recipes, styles, shapes and sizes over the years, but I could never duplicate that cheesy, crisp cracker I remember from childhood.
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I had all but given up when my friend brought her cheese crisps to a party. Oh, my goodness! Finally, that old-fashioned flair I had missed. The light, perfectly balanced cheese, butter and flour combination reminded me of my great-aunts and grandmother. Could I make these?
My friend jotted down the recipe for those of us who wanted it, but I still didn't try making the crisps for at least six months. It's amazing what past kitchen failures will do to your confidence. But finding myself with the ingredients on hand, I couldn't resist. I am here to tell you they are the easiest, most flexible cheese crisps I have ever made -- no strange kneading technique, no special equipment, easy-to-keep-on-hand ingredients -- all in under 30 minutes.
• Alicia Ross is the co-author of the "Desperation Dinners!" series of cookbooks. Write her at Kitchen Scoop, c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106, or firstname.lastname@example.org. More at the Kitchen Scoop website at kitchenscoop.com.