Savannahians like a good celebration, and you will find some variation of cheese straws or cheese crackers on every party platter. This version has a consistency more like shortbread, and it uses those earthy Georgia pecans. You can adjust the level of heat by varying the amount of cayenne pepper.
- Yield: 48 rounds
- 1½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
- 2 tablespoons pecan pieces
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 2 cups shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
- Smoked paprika (optional)
- Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and cayenne pepper.
- Put the pecan pieces in a food processor and pulse a few times, until they are finely chopped. Add the butter and cheese and pulse until a smooth paste has formed. Add the flour mixture and pulse a few more times, until the ingredients are well combined. Remove the dough from the food processor and place it in a bowl.
- Using a teaspoon, scoop out a piece of dough, roll it into a ball, and place it on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough, leaving about 2 inches between them. Use the tines of a fork to flatten each round slightly, creating a crisscross pattern.
- Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through the baking time for even baking. Remove the pan and sprinkle each round lightly with paprika, if desired, for a little color and smokiness. Allow the rounds to cool on a wire rack. The rounds can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.