Savory sharp cheddar cheese straws are made spooky thanks to clever shaping and the addition of black (food coloring-painted) almonds. Halloween just got tastier.
I first posted this recipe way back in 2008. Since I like to think my writing and photography have gotten better since then, I thought these deserved a repost. I’ve seen several recipes floating around for sweet witch’s fingers, but I’m always in need of more savory treats, which is one reason I especially love these. If you’re looking for a quick and tasty Halloween treat, then you definitely need to make these!
Halloween, as I’ve mentioned, is one of my favorite holidays. I would make Halloween treats all month if I could, but there’s no way Eric and I could eat all those goodies. I couldn’t let Halloween pass without making these, though, because they’re so much fun to make. Plus, they taste absolutely delicious and add spooky flair to any party. The extra sharp cheddar makes them intensely cheesy, and they bake up nice and crispy. The coarse salt adds a nice crunch on top. Since I like my cheese straws a little spicy, I’ve adapted the recipe to include cayenne pepper. If you don’t want the heat, simply leave it out. They’ll still taste fabulous without it. I also adapted the recipe to include wetting the dough before pressing the almonds on because many of them fell off after baking without this step. I painted the almonds to give them a spookier appearance, and I love the way the black nails look against the orange fingers.
- COOK TIME:
- YIELD: about 30 "fingers"
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ounces (1 cup packed) shredded, extra sharp cheddar cheese
¾ cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornmeal
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
1 large egg
30 sliced almonds
Black food coloring gel, optional
Combine butter, cheese, flour, cornmeal and cayenne (if using) in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until mixture has the texture of wet sand. Transfer to a bowl. Using a fork, mix in egg until dough holds together. Turn out onto a sheet of parchment paper about 12 inches long. Top with another sheet of parchment and press dough into a ½-inch thick circle.
Freeze for 15 minutes or refrigerate up to 3 days. Remove dough from freezer and roll into a rectangle about 8 inches wide and 10 inches long. Return to freezer for an additional 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, if desired, paint almonds. Mix a tiny amount of food coloring with a tiny bit of water. Using a small paintbrush, paint color onto almonds and set aside. Remove dough from freezer and preheat oven to 350º. Peel off top sheet of parchment. Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut the dough into two 8×5-inch sections. Then cut into about 30 ½-inch wide strips. Place strips on an ungreased cookie sheet. Sprinkle with coarse salt, to taste.
Use your fingers to shape each strip, rounding the ends and bending in various directions to create a knobby shape. Using a sharp knife, score “knuckles” onto each “finger.” Lightly dab one edge of each finger with water, then gently press the almonds into the dough. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the fingers are golden and crisp. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.