Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Xmas Nibbles!

There have been a number of things that I normally make at xmas that I have not done or plan to do this year, but that hole left has made me want to make things that I have not made recently, to try them out again as an entertaining treat. 

With this in mind, I thought I would try out some edible "straws". I made chocolate straws and pesto straws for a "cousins and cocktails" night a number of years ago and the sweet and savoury treats were a hit. So I thought it was time I tackled the more well known "cheese straws" (of which the chocolate straws and pesto straws are simply a variation). They are easy to make with simple ingredients: cheese (I use a mix of mature cheddar & parmesan), Jus-Roll puff pastry, and a beaten egg for finishing. 

The puff pastry brand I use (Jus-Roll) contains two rolls of ready made pastry (if you make your own from scratch, good on ye, but I am going for party convenience!), which is ideal for making both a sweet and a savoury snack. Roll out according to packet instructions, on a lightly floured surface; here I also include a sprinkling of parmesan to become embedded in the pastry while rolling. Put handfuls of cheese on half the rolled pastry, then fold, roll out again and add another layer of cheese.


With a sharp knife cut the rolled pastry into strips.


Carefully take one strip at a time and twist before placing on a baking sheet, which is already prepared with a surface of parchment or wax paper. The straws always want to move around and untwist on the sheet. Be patient with them; try twisting tighter than you want them to be and you may end up with the twist you want. Actually, it doesn't really matter -- they taste great and each one looks individual when baked. Divide the beaten egg into two dishes so that you can have one specifically for the savoury and the other sweet. To finish the straws, loosely brush on some beaten egg. Sprinkle some more parmesan over the straws before putting in the oven.


Bake in the centre of the oven about 10 minutes at around 180C.  Cool before removing from tray; they can be eaten warm or cold. They also freeze well, though make sure they are in a sturdy container as they are delicate pastry. The yield is pretty good: two and a half dozen at least from the single pastry roll. Tip: only bake one tray at a time for even cooking; prepare the other trays when the first is in the oven -- it is still pretty quick.


The same process is done for making the chocolate straws. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface, spread chocolate on one half of the pastry, fold, repeat, cut into strips, twist. Note: since this is a sweet snack, sprinkle sugar on the surface with the flour so that it gets embedded into the pastry dough while rolling!


Again, brush the straws loosely with beaten egg.


For the finishing touch, sprinkle the straws with more sugar before putting into the oven.


I prefer the savoury straws myself, but anyone who likes sweets will love these!