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Lethal. Devastating. Deadly little things if you’re watching your weight. You can’t have just one. The type of snack that calls out to you from wherever you locked it up: ‘go on, you can’t resist me…’ Because they are irresistible.
I must admit that The Weather Man was the trail blazer as far as cheese biscuits go – or cheese straws as we used to call them. His version was probably just flour, butter and cheese mix, shaped into straws and baked – very very moreish. I still have a soft spot for those simple ones, not least because he used to bake them.
My interpretation uses the wonderful rugelach pastry – the easiest in the world, versatile, melting and flaking like a cross between puff and shortcrust. Three ingredients, flour, butter and cream cheese, and the pastry world is your eclair. Traditionally and originally filled with butter, sugar and cinnamon mix, they accommodate savoury just as well. I make them into swirls: roll out the pastry, roll it up with grated cheese, chill and slice. Just about the best cheese snack in the world, if I say so myself.
- 400g (3 cups) plain flour
- 225g (2 sticks) butter, softened
- 225g (1 cup) full fat cream cheese
- a pinch of salt
- 300g (2½ cup) grated cheese: Cheddar, Gruyère, Emmental or a mix
- beaten egg, for brushing
To make the pastry, mix all the ingredients except the cheese in a standing mixer with a paddle attachment, or knead it by hand to a smooth pastry. Shape it ito a ball and divide in half.
Working with one piece at a time, roll it out to about a pound coin thickness on a lightly floured surface; ideally into a neat rectangle but as you and I both know, it's near impossible. A round will do and the edges can be trimmed either before or after rolling it up with the cheese.
Brush the pastry disc with the beaten egg to make the cheese stick. Spread half the cheese over the pastry, generously. Starting from the longer edge, roll the pastry up tightly into a sausage. brush the edge with more egg to seal the seam well. Trim the sides if you haven't done it before. Wrap the roll in cling film and repeat with the rest of the pastry. Chill in the fridge for at least an hour, and up to several days.
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas 6. Line a large baking sheet with parchment.
Slice the cheese roll into about 1cm (½ in) thick discs, place them on the baking sheet with plenty of space between each other.
Bake for 15 minutes until the pastry just begins to colour and the cheese is bubbling. Cool on a wire rack.