This is a tradition in our house at Christmas time, and it is Christmas time isn’t it. Well you know what that means (trumpets blaring in the background) – The 12 Treats of Christmas! (in a booming voice). This is Treat #1. I changed the name from Cookie #1 to Treat #1 because I want to bring you a bigger variety of treats (there is a reason that the word “eat” is in treats?!)  While this is not an entirely new recipe it is one that supports the message I always try to deliver in my cooking classes – be adventurous, be bold.  The curry leaves remind me of coming home on a cold winter day and the aromas of my mum’s cooking at Christmas time (really any time of the year).    

Recipes are guides; they are not etched in stone. Oh there are classics which I think should stay classics but then as we open up our taste buds to the myriad of new flavors now available to us, it becomes almost sinful not to try new tastes with old classics. In this case, I have put fresh curry leaves (newish in Canada) and dry mustard into these cheeselets. You can get curry leaves at almost any grocery store depending on the demographics of your neighborhood. I have purchased them from the corner Indian stores, T&T, Loblaw’s, Superstores, No Frills – just ask the produce person. They freeze very well and will keep their shape and color, but don’t defrost them, use them right from the freezer.  It is well worth the hunt for these fresh fragrant leaves.  

This taste will work with any cheeselet or cheese straw recipe. I added the curry leaves two ways, the first was to paint a very light coating of a slightly beaten egg white onto the surface of the rolled out dough, and then placed the leaves on top randomly. When slightly dry, I cut them into small pieces about 1”x3/4” – please cut them any size you like. I like my Christmas sweets/savories bite size because I want you to try everything on my table. The other method was to chop up the fresh leaves and gently fold them into the dough, then roll and slice.

I also added fresh chillies – not new, I’ve done this before and cayenne pepper. Do try these, make lots, I promise you they will not go to waste. Matter of fact, we finished almost half a batch just while baking on Sunday. Oh well, time to get going on the next cookie.

You are limited only by your imagination. I like things these savory so I wouldn’t necessarily make a batch of these but, I was just thinking of the flavors that go well with cheese – apples, pears. Herbs like Herb de Provence with lavender and thyme – what else – honey, jam. I may come back to these ideas with a future cookie. As always – enjoy Christmas Cookie #1 (in a loud booming voice)!

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. kosher salt
12oz old cheddar, grated or pulsed – the sharper the cheddar the better the taste
12 tbsp. Churn 84 European Style Butter
6 tbsp. 35% cream
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp. mustard powder – do I need to say good quality and fresh?!
8-10 hot chilies
¼ cup fresh curry leaves, chopped or whole

Preheat the oven to 400F, line a cookie sheet with parchment
Save yourself some time and knuckles by using the food processor to grate the cheddar – just chop it into smaller bits before pulsing several times
Add the remaining contents except the cream to the cheese
Pulse a few times until all is mixed, slowly add the cream and pulse several times until it starts to form a dough – stop at this point
Empty the contents onto a lightly floured surface – cut in half
Roll the half to about 1/8” – 1/4” thickness
Using your rolling pin, wrap the dough around it and transfer to a parchment paper lined baking tray
Using a sharp knife or a pizza cutter, cut into ½” strips, then cross wise into diamond shapes or just rectangular, or use a cookie cutter – just keep them small, you want your guests to try everything on your table, not just these
Bake for 10 – 12 minutes – they will harden as they sit outside
When cool, transfer to an airtight container and hide, I mean refrigerate them until company arrives (right, like that’s going to happen!)
Bring to room temperature before serving (or not)!