These are an elegant and crowd-pleasing nibble, and just as suitable with a cold beer as with a glass of champagne. Make more than you think you’ll need – these are seriously addictive.
Makes approx. 32 twists
1 sheet of ready-rolled puff pastry
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Preheat the oven to 425F / 210C / 200C Fan.
Line a couple of baking trays with parchment paper and set aside.
Unroll the puff pastry on a board and place a sheet of parchment on top of the pastry. Roll out the pastry a little larger, to about the size of a small tea towel. Peel off the parchment. Over half the pastry, grate over a thin layer of cheddar cheese, a thin layer of parmesan cheese and a pinch of salt and a light sprinkling of cayenne. Fold the clean half of the pastry over, taking care to line up the edges, and place the parchment back on top. Use your rolling pin to gently roll all over, pressing down to seal.
Remove the parchment again and trim the edges so you have a neat rectangle.
The width of your pastry will become the length of your cheese straws (about 22cm or so). Cut the pastry into 1cm thick strips. (Easiest way is to cut down the pastry into halves, then again, and again, and so on.)
Tip: Don’t be tempted to make longer or thicker straws – the structural integrity of the straw is achieved using these dimensions. Any longer and it will snap; any thicker and it will fold.
To make the twist, pick up the straw at both ends and twist your hands in opposite directions to form the twist. Place the twisted straw on the parchment-lined baking tray, pressing the ends down slightly to prevent untwisting, and taking care to keep the straws as straight as possible to avoid bending and snapping later. After a few straws you’ll really get the hang of it, so don’t be put off if the first few look a little less-than-elegant. (You need sample ones for quality control, anyway.)
Tip: If the pastry is getting a little tacky and hard to handle, pop the board in the freezer for 5 minutes or so to help the pastry firm up.
Keep going until you have made all your straws, then pop the tray in the fridge to chill while you tidy up.
When you’re ready to bake, beat an egg in a small bowl and use a pastry brush to lightly brush down the length of each straw. Grate over some more parmesan and sprinkle over a little salt. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes, or until crisp and golden. Do not underbake. Leave to cool on the tray for a minute, then carefully transfer to a rack to cool completely.
Display in glasses or a small vase and serve with a nice drink.