Italian Cheese Straws

Puff pastry has always been something I'd like to make from scratch. However, I've heard some horror stories from fellow baker friends which kept me buying the packaged puff pastry for years. But since I had some time to play in the kitchen, I figured I'd give it a shot and see what happens. It actually wasn't too bad and I plan on practicing some more! The first time I made homemade puff pastry, I made these Italian Cheese Straws which I shared with my culinary class. They turned out okay but I've made the recipe a couple times since and I'm getting better! Besides, you can't go wrong with butter and cheese...

Thank goodness for my food processor. It did most of the work forming the dough which consists of all purpose flour, cold unsalted butter, salt and some water. Once a ball of dough was formed in the food processor, the real work began. This dough requires lots of rolling out, folding and chilling... so if you plan on making this, plan on spending a day or start it in the evening so you have some overnight chilling.

Italian Cheese Straws
recipe adapted from Cooks Illustrated

2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
20 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1/2 inch dice
1 teaspoon table salt
6 tablespoons cold water, plus more if necessary
1/3 cup shredded Asiago cheese
1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Place flour in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add 4 tablespoons of butter and pulse until it's absorbed.

Add the remaining butter and pulse once or twice to distribute. Dissolve salt in the water and add to the flour mixture, pulse 3-4 times, until the dough starts to form a rough ball. Be carful not to overprocess. If it seems a bit dry, add a teaspoon of water at a time and pulse again.

Place the dough onto a floured work surface and shape into a rough rectangle.

Lightly flour a large sheet of plastic wrap and place the rectangle dough over it. Lightly flour top of dough and cover with another sheet of plastic wrap. Press the dough with a rolling pin to flatten, then roll back and forth several times with the rolling pin to make a 12 x 18 inch rectangle of dough.

Peel away the plastic wrap and invert the dough onto a floured work surface with the long side facing you. Peel away the second piece of plastic wrap. Fold the top third of dough down and bottom third up (similar to folding up a letter) to make a 4 x 18 inch rectangle. Roll up the down from one short end to the other like a jelly roll. Press the dough into a square and wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least one hour or until firm.

On a floured surface, roll puff pastry back into a 12 x 18 inch rectangle. Slide this onto a pan and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour once again.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and brush with egg beaten with a pinch of salt. Sprinkle the dough with kosher salt and Italian cheeses over half the dough's surface. Then fold dough over topping to form a 12 x 9 inch rectangle. Lightly flour the surface and the dough; roll dough back into a 12 x 18 inch rectangle. Refrigerate dough if necessary.

Cut the dough into about 36, 12 x 2 inch strips. Twist each strip into a corkscrew shape and curl the ends into a small ball. Transfer the twisted dough strips onto a parchment lined jelly roll pan or baking sheet. Chill until firm and cold, about another hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake the straws in the preheated oven until golden, about 20 minutes.

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