Twice now I’ve made these for friends’ open houses. They take a few minutes to make and are a big hit. The recipe is from Kevin Lee Jacobs–he has wonderful photos, too. I use Dufour frozen pastry dough. I don’t know why Kevin calls these paillettes, but how can a French name be bad? Paille means straw in French, but pailletté means covered in sequins. If you add sesame seeds, these are sequined straws.
Ingredients for about 30 cheese straws.
1 package (2-sheets) frozen puff pastry, thawed but still cold
1/2 cup finely grated Asiago (I used cheddar)
1 cup finely grated Swiss or Gruyere
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Grinds of black pepper
You can add any of these: black or golden sesame seeds, poppy seeds, caraway seeds; fresh or dried thyme; cayenne pepper, or whatever herb or seed appeals to you. And you can really use any cheese(s) you like.
1. Scatter half the grated cheese in a 10×10-inch area on your work surface. Sprinkle on the salt, the pepper, herbs, and any other ingredients you wish (save the seeds for the next step).
2. Lay one sheet of puff pastry over the cheese mixture. Smooth out the creases in the pastry with a rolling pin, gently pressing down so that cheese is embedded in the dough. Sprinkle top of dough with whatever seeds, if you are using them, and then gently push them into dough with your rolling pin.
3. Using a pastry-cutter, pizza wheel or knife, cut the dough into 1/2-inch strips. Holding a strip at each end, turn it round and round to form a twist. Lay the twisted strip on the baking sheet (you can line with parchment or Silpat, but it’s really not necessary). Repeat with the other twists, arranging them about 1/2 inch apart on the baking sheet.
4. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. You can freeze the straws for up to one month at this point. Cover the sheet with plastic wrap for 4 hours or overnight. When solidly frozen, transfer to plastic bags.
5. Set the oven rack at the center position; preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake until the twists are puffed and slightly golden — 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack. Serve hot! Or wrap in a towel and take to a party.