August 17, 2014

Recipe - Cheese Crisps

Vintage appetizer recipe, Cheese Crisps, ready to bake.

Before the days when appetizers were called "munchies," most holidays, parties and gatherings called for some planning ahead, locating recipes, cooking or baking, creating something special to serve with cocktails or as a pre-dinner snack. For example, back in the 60s and 70s, my mother made Cheese Crisps to keep on hand and serve anyone who might drop by during the Christmas season.  They were standard fare at parties during that time too.  I haven't thought of them in over 30 years, not until the May 2014 issue of Southern Living featured a very similar recipe.  It took some digging but I found my mom's version, hand written on a piece of notepaper (with the words, "When the going gets Tough, the Tough go SHOPPING" printed on top). When I made these wafers the other day I followed her recipe for sentimental reasons, and they came out great, just like I remembered.

Curious about the history of the recipe I went through my cookbook collection and found many variations, the earliest being in renowned Texas cook Helen Corbitt's Cookbook (1957). Her "Cheese Pastries" had many variations but the basic recipe consisted of shredded cheese, shortening, flour, salt and cayenne pepper.  I found "Cheese Wafers" in the General Foods Kitchens Cookbook (1959):  Perfect for a mother-daughter graduation tea party, these delicate wafers called for "snappy cheese" and "butter or other shortening" in addition to the common other ingredients.  I also found "Cheese Crisps" in my grandmother's late-sixties cookbook produced by VEPCO (Virginia Electric & Power Company) which featured pecans in the dough and called for shaping the dough into rolls which were refrigerated and then sliced thin to form the wafers.  In 1972, Southern Living's Party Cookbook included "Crunchy Cheese Biscuits."  It is nearly identical to my mother's recipe, though hers is doubled; and finally there's a recipe from D.S. Freeman (Richmond, VA) High School's Faculty Favorites, probably published in the early 70s, which was submitted courtesy the Home Economics Department.  It featured the addition of an egg white to the otherwise standard mixture.

Since this recipe is so easy (you can buy your cheese already shredded) why not give it a try next time you need an appetizer?  We're all tired of tortilla chips and salsa, potato chips and onion dip, and even though we haven't seen corn chips and bean dip in a while that would be a yawner too.  Here's my mom's version of a very old favorite (she used grated Velveeta), but it's so adaptable I urge you to tweak it to your liking and make it a tradition in your home.

Patricia Axtell's Cheese Crisps

Makes about 80 wafers

Ingredients

2 cups grated yellow cheese
2 sticks softened margarine
2 cups flour
2 cups Rice Krispies
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1/4 teaspoon onion salt
1/8 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Procedure

Preheat oven to 350

1.  Mix cheese and margarine; add flour and mix well.

2.  Mix in Rice Krispies and seasonings.

Well mixed and ready to shape into balls.

3.  Shape into small balls (shooter marble size) and place on ungreased cookie sheet.  Mash with fork crisscross.

4.  Bake at 350 degrees about 10 minutes.

"If you wish you may substitute 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon red pepper for the Tabasco, onion salt and Worcestershire sauce.  Both ways are good."

Cheese Crisps ready for baking.

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