OK, they aren't really called Cheese Treats. When the shape changed, the name had to change too. The idea for this snack comes from Paula Deen's Cheese Straw recipe. During Halloween, I planned on making these and cutting them into cats, bats and other festive shapes. Being that I never got around to it, I figured it would be just as fun to make them into Christmas shapes. And there you have it...Cheesy Christmas Treats!
Made 2 Dozen (with standard size of cookie cutter)
¾ pound (8 ounces) well-aged, extra-sharp 2% cheddar, grated
¼ pound (4 ounces) Parmigiano Reggiano, finely grated
¼ pound (½ cup or 1 stick) I Can't Believe It's Not Butter, softened
1 generous teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, or more, to taste
½ teaspoon salt
10 ounces (about 2 cups) WHOLE WHEAT flour
In a food processor fitted with a steel blade or with a stand mixer, cream both cheeses with the butter until fluffy and smooth.
Whisk together the cayenne, salt, and whole wheat flour in a separate bowl. Add it all to the processor or in batches to the mixer and work into a smooth dough. Gather into a ball, wrap well in plastic wrap, and chill 30 minutes. Don’t let it chill hard. If you make it ahead, soften at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 325° F. Roll out the dough on a lightly flour a work surface about 1/8-inch thick and cut into shapes with cookie cutters.
Bake 16 to 18 minutes, being careful not to let them brown. The bottoms should be golden but the tops and sides should not color. Cool on wire racks. Store in airtight tins.
I can't claim that these are low-fat treats, but trust me, I really tried. I guess some things are just meant to be. The attempt was not a complete wash. I did manage to cut some of the fat by using 2% cheese and butter substitute. I tried using less butter than the original recipe called for, but it really needs a full stick. At least the saturated fat was cut in half (from 54 to 27 for one stick). They may not be 100% lean, but they are a slimmer version. It's Christmas time...'tis the season to treat yourself a little!
They turned out nice, but didn't have that pretty orange color that Paula's did. Using whole wheat flour caused this, but other than the color, it worked just as well as all-purpose. Mine did have a little bite to them, so use caution when adding the pepper. I hope you all ENJOY!
NUTRITION FACTS (per cheese treat): 93.25 calories; 5.43g fat; 8.26g carbohydrate; 3g protein; 1.2g fiber