Let’s just face the harsh fact, shall we – from a strictly flavor standpoint, junk food is kind of awesome.
There’s a reason we are all addicted to the stuff – huge amounts of salt and fat, plus enough unpronounceable chemicals to cause even the most eloquent tongue to become twisted into a Gordian knot of syllabic horror.
That said – it tastes good. Really good.
So, what if you could actually make a healthier form of junk food where you know EXACTLY what went into it? This recipe and others like it make that possible. My recipe is based on one from the outstanding book “Classic Snacks Made from Scratch” by Casey Barber, published by Ulysses Press and available on Amazon.
These cheese doodles are clones of a very popular snack with a cool spokescat – I’ll avoid the name to keep their legal lapdogs at bay. This recipe is flavored with Monterey Jack cheese in the dough and use dehydrated cheddar cheese powder for the infamous “dust”. I’ve added a bit of Romano cheese sprinkle with herbs to liven things up, but feel free to go all cheddar if you’re a purist.
I also went with white cheddar simply because the orange is a bit garish for my taste. It’s actually dyed with annatto, which is a natural food coloring that is perfectly fine for you. Go orange if you do prefer.
Your kids will love these – and frankly YOU will love them too. They’re delicious, without compromise junk food that isn’t really bad for you or your children. What’s not to like, Citizens? 🙂
Battle on – The Generalissimo
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) chilled unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1⁄8 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup (4¼ ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons yellow cornmeal
4 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, finely shredded (about 1 cup)
1 ½ tablespoons Cheddar Cheese powder – I prefer King Arthur Vermont White Cheddar Powder
½ tablespoon Penzey’s Brady Street Cheese Sprinkle
½ teaspoon buttermilk powder
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon cornstarch
MAKE THE CHEESE CURLS: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, salt, and garlic powder at medium-low speed for 1 to 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the flour, cornmeal, and shredded cheese.
Stir together at low speed until a firm dough forms. Shape into a disc and place on a large sheet of plastic wrap; wrap tightly and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat liners.
Pinch off small pieces of the chilled dough and gently roll between your palms and fingers to form lumpy logs roughly 2 to 2½ inches long and ¼ to ½ inch across.
Place on the prepared baking sheets—you can space them fairly close together because they won’t puff up while baking.
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the pieces are no longer shiny and are just beginning to brown around the edges. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
ADD THE COATING: Place the cheese powders, buttermilk powder, salt, and cornstarch in a spice grinder or mini food processor and whir for 10 to 15 seconds to blend evenly.
Transfer to a large zip-top bag. Add the cooled Cheetos, seal, and shake gently to coat evenly.
Store the coated cheese curls at room temperature in an airtight container for up to a week.