Thursday, November 6, 2008

Cheese For Your Inner Mouse

Oh, Coffee Mates. Have I got something fantastic for you! No, those are not Snickerdoodles in the above photo. The resemblance is only superficial, I assure you. For one thing, these little guys are only about an inch across. That's a Very Good Thang because, I guarandurnedtee you, there is posilutely, absotively no way on God's green earth that you can only eat one. The physical dimension might be dainty but the flavor dimension is huge.

They're called Cheese Puffs but, unlike most recipes of that name, they are not the cream puff-style puff. These are more like a shortbread cookie, all buttery and tender-crunchy and overflowing with the most marvelous cheese flavor you can imagine. Mind you, this batch was made with regular cheddar cheese. Had I used sharp cheddar, the flavor excellence would have probably put me into a state of blissful shock.

The extra added attraction of the recipe is that it calls for minimum ingredients, minimum time involved and minimum effort. Here am how it goes ...


1 cup shredded cheese
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon dry mustard

Set your oven at 400 degrees fairyheight. Grate your cheese. In a medium bowl, mix flour, mustard and butter, working the butter in until you have pea-sized lumps. Add the cheese and continue working the mixture until the dough comes together and starts cleaning the sides of the bowl.

Using a teaspoon, scoop out dabs of dough, roll into balls somewhere between hazel nut and walnut size, then place on cookie sheet about 1 inch apart. You should get 2-dozen of the little rascals. Slip the pan in the oven with the rack in the middle position. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.

That's really all there is to it but let me add a couple of points.

I have a grater that gives me three different sizes of grate: macho, medium and mini. I can't say for sure that it makes any real difference but using the mini, or fine, grate -- and with the cheese at room temperature -- the mixing seemed to go much easier than it might have otherwise.

This is one of those basic recipes that lends itself to lots of variations. For this batch, I added a sprinkle of cayenne pepper, which gave just enough heat to leave a comfortably warm sensation in my mouth after I swallowed the last bite. I could have added any number of other seasonings, like onion powder or garlic powder or any of the Mrs. Dash salt-free mixtures. (Notice there is no salt in the recipe, other than what's in the butter and cheese.) For that matter, very finely minced chili pepper or onion or garlic would have probably gone well.

Just for laughs and giggles, the next batch I make I think I'll flatten with a fork and maybe bake only 10 or 12 minutes. No particular reason except perhaps that form would lend itself more efficiently to the task of scooping up some nummy dip.

Like my Inner Mouse really needs more snacking calories.


Wendy said...

Oh, Dee! I can see some of these going off to Thanksgiving dinner with me--if I make multiple batches so there are some left to take. :)

Becky said...

I have long had and loved a similar recipe. The only problem is they're so very addictive.

John Bailey said...

The mustard is genius, Dee! I'll give these a try... been looking for good, easy, tasty ideas to get me back into proper cooking now that I have a decent kitchen again!

Bex said...

Thanks. I've printed off this recipe - in a large font - and may try them soon!

Bonnie said...

I guess one couldn't sub low fat margarine for butter. :-)

I'm off now to go post that recipe and leave something that is sure to leave you laughing.

Maggie said...

Yes, it is a wonderful world, and yes, those sound simply mouth watering. I only ask, "If you eat like this, why don't you look like me?" lol

Dee said...

Yes, Wendy, make extra. You'll be glad you did.

Yes, Becky, these are hugely addictive. I made the mistake of bringing the dish in here by the computer last night. Before I realized what I had done, there were only 4 left -- out of 2 dozen! Yikes!

John, my grandson-the-chef tells me the mustard enhances the cheese flavor so I guess that was why even the milder cheddar came across so well.

Bex, keep in mind -- we have warned you! (grin)

Bonnie, I don't see why you couldn't use both low-fat margarine and cheese. I think the texture might be a bit different but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Worth a try.

Dee said...

Maggie, you are sweet but you have not seen how formidable my midsection has become. I have learned to love elastic waist bands.