This is a great “base” recipe for experimenting on top of. It’s ridiculously easy to make the simple version, and mild enough to be a blank canvas for personalization. And with only four ingredients, there’s a good chance you’ve already got what you need to make them.
I figured out when I was doing baked macaroni and cheese that you’re better off not using the pre-shredded cheese. It has “anti-caking agents” in it, which means powdered cornstarch to prevent the pieces from sticking to each other. It doesn’t change the flavor enough to notice, but it doesn’t melt together as well when that is what you want.
Same story here. Get a solid block of cheese you like and shred that.
Then add the butter, flour and salt.
You might have noticed that’s not salt in the picture. Nope. It’s paprika, which is what the recipe I was starting from said to use. Only 1/4 teaspoon, which I think wasn’t enough to taste. And the whole time I was adding it, a little voice in the back of my head was telling me I should be adding some salt, too. But I figured I’d follow the recipe the first time. Mistake. I should have added a teaspoon.
So, once all your ingredients are together, cut the butter into the dry ingredients same way you would when making pie crust.
Once it resembles coarse meal, get in with your hands and mix everything together until it forms a ball of dough that holds together.
Pull off pieces of dough and roll them between your hands into balls about an inch across. You should get about 30 of them from this amount.
Now here’s where I’ll be adding another step next time. Roll the balls in grated Parmesan cheese. I can almost taste the difference now.
Extra cheese or not, place the balls on an un-greased baking sheet with a little room between them.
Bake at 350° for 15-20 minutes. They’re done when the top starts to turn a little golden brown.
There is so much butter in these, I don’t think even the extra dusting of Parmesan I’m planning for next time will make them stick. They popped right up with almost no effort.
And had a nice, crunchy bottom to them.
Since I didn’t make them with salt, they were a little bland. So I hit them with a bit of popcorn salt and they were just right. My wife liked dipping them, still warm, in plain sour cream. The girls thought they tasted sort of like Goldfish crackers, but with a different texture. Everyone agreed they were a great quick snack.
But like I said — about four or five times now, I think — I’m going to roll them in Parmesan before baking next time. And I’ll add salt before rolling them out. And maybe I’ll try them with half cheddar and half feta. Maybe add a little chipotle powder next time.
Lots of seasonings to try, lots of cheeses to try. These are going to be showing up at lots of parties from here on out.