"If I had to give up cheese or chocolate, I'd give up chocolate in a heartbeat."
This post is for my friend Kate, who tweets as @CoastalKate and was looking for a finger food for a holiday office party. It was just the kick in the pants I needed to try this recipe which has been tucked in my Christmas cookbook for, well, who knows how long. It is handwritten, and says "Cheddar Cookies AKA June's Secret Cocktail Cookies" at the top. I have no idea who June is, don't know a June and cannot remember when I wrote this down or where I obtained it. Many apologies to June, but apparently it was no longer a secret, since I must have gotten it somewhere! I thought of them for Kate, but would never recommend a recipe with actually trying it, so I made them today. Oh, fortunate me! (munch, munch, munch)
Let me just say....THEY ARE AMAZING! If you like sharp cheddar, then I think it is virtually impossible to dislike these cookies....which, by the way, are light, flaky, crisp and cheesy with just the perfect amount of heat. Kind of like the cheese straws you sometimes find in gourmet baskets, but better. They are traditionally served at cocktail parties and would be great at a holiday party, as they are simply elegant. I tucked some in the box of treats I'm mailing off tomorrow to Curtis for final exam snacks. He loves Cheezits, so c'mon, why not? These are some serious home-made cheezits! For these you will want to buy a nice sharp cheddar, I used Vermont Sharp white cheddar, grated it myself and they were perfect. I find that when I grate the cheese myself, it melts much better than the pre-grated stuff in the bags.
1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup flour
2 cups grated sharp cheddar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, cream the butter with an electric mixer. Add the flour, cayenne pepper and salt and mix in. It will look crumbly. Mix with your hands, just a little, until it starts to clump, then mix in the cheddar with your hands. Roll into balls (about 2 teaspoons of dough) and place on cookie sheet. Find a glass with a flat bottom and use it to flatten the balls. Dip bottom of glass in flour, and press all the dough balls down, periodically flouring the bottom of the glass, so the cookies won't stick.
Bake for 15 minutes. Makes 30 cookies. Serve at room temperature and store in an airtight container.