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~ Parm, Pepper and Herb Puff-Pastry Cheese Twists ~

IMG_7631Along with the charcuterie, cheese twists are always something I've included on my snack table during the holidays.  Light and airy, crispy-crunchy, buttery rich and full of flavor, they're the quintessential nosh with whatever cocktail one happens to be sipping.  Interestingly, store-bought cheese twists are not only harder to find (it was three strikes we're out -- as in they do not carry them -- at our local stores this year), the quality (as in the three packages I purchased on-line) has gone decidedly downhill too.  Years ago our local downtown Cheese Shoppe sold them, and, they were so damned delicious there was no reason to consider making them at home.

Cheese twists, sometimes called cheese sticks or cheese straws: Light and airy, crispy-crunchy, buttery rich and full of flavor. 

IMG_7638Making cheese twists, using store-bought puff pastry is easy, plus, one gets to customize the flavor profile a bit to suit the menu.

IMG_75611  17.3-ounce box, all-butter puff pastry sheets, thawed overnight in the freezer if previously frozen

2  tablespoons bench flour

1  large egg

1  tablespoon water

1 1/2  cups shredded Gruyére cheese (4 ounces)

3/4  cup finely-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1/2  teaspoon garlic powder

1/2  teaspoon onion powder

1  teaspoon dried herbes de Provence, or dried herbs or herb blend of choice (Example: oregano leaves, rosemary leaves, thyme leaves, herbs de Provence, Greek or Italian seasoning blend, etc.)

1  teaspoon sea salt

1  teaspoon coarse-grind black pepper

IMG_7564 IMG_7564 IMG_7564 IMG_7564 IMG_7564~Step 1.  Grate and shred the cheeses as directed.  Set aside.  In a small bowl or ramekin, beat the egg and water together with a fork.  Set aside. In a second small bowl or ramekin, combine the garlic powder, onion powder, herb of choice, salt and pepper.  Set aside.  Line 2, 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pans with parchment paper and set aside.  

IMG_7573 IMG_7573 IMG_7573 IMG_7573~Step 2.  Dust a  pastry board with the bench flour. Remove pastry sheets from packaging and place, the squares on prepared board.  Using fingertips, carefully open the tri-folded sheets. Using a rolling pin, roll the pastry just enough to seal the folds where pastry got unfolded.  

IMG_7583 IMG_7583 IMG_7583 IMG_7583 IMG_7583~Step 3.  Using a pastry brush, paint the surface of both pastries with the egg/water mixture.  Sprinkle the surface of each pastry sheet with 1/2 cup grated Parm-Regg cheese, followed by 1/2 cup shredded Gruyére.  Using your fingertips, sprinkle the seasoning mixture evenly over all.  Using the rolling pin, gently press the cheeses and seasonings into the sheets.

IMG_7598 IMG_7598 IMG_7598 IMG_7598 IMG_7598 IMG_7598~Step 4.  With the aid of a ruler and a chef's knife or a pizza wheel cutter, horizontally cut each pastry sheet into 8, strips.  Transfer 8 strips to both prepared baking pans.   Once on pans, use pizza wheel cutter to slice the strips in half horizontally. Twist each strip, in opposite directions (top to the right, bottom to the left), at both ends.

IMG_7616 IMG_7616 IMG_7616 IMG_7616~Step 5.  Bake, one pan at a time, on center rack of preheated 350º oven, 12-15 minutes, until lightly-browned and puffed.  Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Plate and store cheese twists, uncovered, for 1-2 days, prior to serving at room temperature.  This is not a typo. Cheese twists, stored uncovered, are better served 12-24 hours after baking them. 

The more cheese twists at any party, the merrier:

IMG_7628Parm, Pepper and Herb Puff-Pastry Cheese Twists:  Recipe yields 32, 4" cheese twists.

Special Equipment List: hand-held box grater; microplane grater; 2 ramekins; fork;  pastry board; rolling pin; pastry brush; pizza wheel cutter; ruler; 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan; parchment paper

6a0120a8551282970b0240a4d3596d200dCook's Note:   We all have our favorite uses for store-bought all-butter puff pastry -- it's such a time saver, and, in the right culinary application, it always tastes great, it makes almost all recipes easier to prepare, and, some recipes using puff pastry can even be made ahead.  Puff pastry makes every gathering a bit more elegant.  In the event you've got a holiday breakfast or brunch on the horizon to plan for, try my pretty-as-a-picture recipe for ~ Sweet Sausage, Apple & Cheddar Puff Pastry Braid ~.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2019)


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