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Parmesan-Romano Cheese Twists

These twists are a welcome change from the traditional crackers and breads that accompany soups and salads. They are flavored with two types of aged cheese— Parmigiano-Reggiano, made from cow’s milk, and Romano, made from sheep’s milk—which together give the twists a pleasant salty, sharp taste.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup plus 2 Tbs. all-purpose flour 
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper 
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda 
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 
  • 8 Tbs. (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces 
  • 1/4 cup cold sour cream 
  • 1 egg beaten with 2 Tbs. heavy cream  
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese 
  • 1/2 cup grated Romano cheese 

Directions:

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, pepper, baking soda and 1/4 tsp. of the salt.

To make the dough by hand, using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut the butter into the flour mixture until the largest pieces are the size of small beans. The butter pieces will be different sizes, and there will still be some loose flour. Add the sour cream and stir with a wooden spoon until clumps of smooth dough form, about 2 minutes.

To make the dough with an electric mixer, add the butter pieces to the flour mixture and beat on low speed until the largest pieces are the size of small beans, about 1 minute. The butter pieces will be different sizes, and there will still be some loose flour. Add the sour cream and beat on low speed until large clumps of smooth dough pull away from the sides of the bowl, about 30 seconds.

Transfer the dough to a work surface and form into a smooth ball. Divide in half and shape each piece into a disk. Wrap each disk tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to overnight.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator. If it is cold and too hard to roll, let it stand at room temperature for 10 to 20 minutes. Preheat an oven to 375°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out each disk into a 6-by-12-inch rectangle. Using a large sharp knife, cut each rectangle lengthwise into 6 strips, 1 inch wide. Then cut the strips in half crosswise. You will have 24 strips, each 6 inches long and 1 inch wide.

Lightly brush the strips with the egg mixture. Sprinkle evenly with the Parmigiano-Reggiano and the Romano, pressing the cheese lightly so it adheres to the dough. Pick up each strip by the ends and twist in opposite directions 4 or 5 times to make a tight spiral. Place the strips on the prepared pan, spacing them 1 inch apart. Sprinkle the strips with the remaining 1/4 tsp. salt. 

Bake until the twists are lightly browned, about 14 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes, then transfer the twists to the rack and let cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Makes 24 twists.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Breakfast and Brunch, by Georgeanne Brennan, Elinor Klivans, Jordan Mackay and Charles Pierce (Oxmoor House, 2007).