Here's my quick to prepare savoury snack - Easy Peasy Smokin' Cheezee Squares! Not quite pastry, not quite a cracker, these cheesy snacks are great for entertaining, gifting or nibbling on movie night.
Easy Peasy Smokin’ Cheezee Squares
Savoury Lesson 2
*Originally posted 06/12/18, updated structure & photos 13/11/23
What Is This Snack?
I didn’t know what to call these cheesy morsels. I used extra mature Scottish cheese and smoked paprika, (as I love smoked paprika & I love mature cheese too! It’s like extra sharp cheddar).
They aren’t exactly crackers as they are thicker and almost puffy but there’s no difficult or long process involved like in making puff pastry. Whatever you want to call them – they are very morish. Cheezee squares are kind of like eating cheese & crackers in one bite.
Perfect Stars For A Perfect Party
And yes your eyes do not deceive you – there are stars and circles too! I only just made them this way, this holiday season with cookie & pastry cutters & felt like changing the shape. I absolutely love the stars and think they are perfect for any New Year or party table.
Where The Name Comes From
So in November 2020, while writing up this recipe as Savoury Lesson 2 for the new website, I ran a competition for suggestions of what to name these snacks. With you guys’ help, I named them Easy Peasy Smokin’ Cheezee Squares!
A mouthful yes! But helps them stand out from the rest – as they really do stand out from just any old cheese snack, with the addition of smoked paprika.
Quick & Easy To Make
These little beauties are quick and easy to produce. Mix the ingredients quickly in a food processor, before chilling the dough, rolling out and cutting the squares, and finally baking.
These cheese snacks, contain the following:
- Flour (Plain/All Purpose)
- Butter (unsalted or salted)
- Smoked Paprika
- Extra Mature Cheese
- Garlic/Onion Powder (optional)
The extra mature cheese is equivalent of extra sharp cheddar, but you can try some other hard cheeses.
Mustard powder is a good alternative to smoked paprika.
If using salted butter, omit the salt.
A Spicy Version – Cheespicy Smokin’ Squares
Now the name suggestions also threw up an idea to make a spicy version with hot smoked paprika, which I developed with the help of my friend CJ and she named them Cheespicy Smokin’ Squares! So details of the ingredients for how to make the spicy ones, are included at the very bottom of the recipe. (See Photo).
I have actually updated the recipe and doubled the quantity as making just one tray of them, is never enough – they taste that good! Quantity of course will depend on what size you make them. But if you make 1″/2.5cm squares, you will get about 110 pieces. But you can easily half the recipe or increase it.
Prepare Ahead Of Time
For speed you can also prepare the dough ahead of time, say night before and place in the fridge. Or, prepare the dough, leave to chill 1 hour, roll and cut out and then place in the fridge to bake next day.
If You Don’t Like Smoked Paprika
If you don’t like smoked paprika, they are just as tasty without. Just make sure to season well and try to get mature hard cheese (sharp cheddar), as this is the strongest flavour that comes through. (You can also replace the smoked paprika with mustard powder and you can find that along side pickles in the supermarkets).
Chilling Is Key
Don’t skip the chilling time for the Easy Peasy Smokin’ Cheezee Squares either as this really helps the gluten in the flour relax, as well as the bites keeping their shape whilst baking. I use unsalted butter, but if you only have salted, omit it from the recipe.
Perfect For Food Gifting Too
I have been making these Cheezee Squares to include in food gift baskets for Christmas, for several years now. Not everyone likes sweet baked treats (strange I know), so these are perfect as a savoury alternative. Everyone loves cheese right?
How To Wrap Or Gift These Snacks
You can wrap these any way you like, but be sure to let who you are gifting them to, know that they should be stored in an airtight container, like a cake tin.
I tend to use either cake tins, or cellophane bags. In the photo here, this Cheese Hamper is not only filled with Smokin’ Cheezee Squares, but various blocks of cheese, for a ‘Cheese Lover’. The baked cheese items, are in bags, inside a cupcake gift box. This rectangular gift basket was from poundshop One Below, and about £2 I believe, and sturdier than there bigger oval shaped ones. Everything is covered with some seasonal cellophane and tied with a handmade bow and ribbon curls.
For more ideas on how to wrap your food gifts for any time of the year, go to my Last Minute Food Gifts article.
Experienced bakers can skip to the Recipe card – an abbreviated version of the recipe. You can also print the recipe via that recipe card, with or without the photos. Click below to skip to the Recipe Card. Lessons students, watch the video & read directions below as well as download the lesson. (See below).Jump to Recipe
Almost Real-time Video
Here’s one of my more recent (better made 🙂 ) video of making these cheesy snacks.Jump to Video
Here are the Smokin’ Cheezee Squares mad by my friend and fellow food blogger Sally Newton. Sally appeared on the American version of Bake Off – The Great American Baking Show – Holiday Edition, season 5 in 2019.
I love the type of cutter Sally used and very proud to see my recipes being made by such a talented baker. You can check out Sally’s blog via this link with some of her other favourite food blogs – Baking Through The Blogosphere
Easy Peasy Smokin’ Cheezee Squares
1. Cube and weigh out your butter and leave out a little to take the cold edge off. It doesn’t need to be soft.
2. Grate/shred the cheese and weigh out the flour.
3. Next, place all ingredients except for the water into a food processor. Pulse the ingredients until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. See Photo 2 in the collage below, of how it should look.
4. Add in the cold water and pulse again until all combined. You can watch this process in the video above or in Photo 3, where the mixture suddenly comes together in a ball, cleaning the sides of the bowl as it does. You might need a little more water to get to this stage, but add in very small drops.
5. Tip the dough out onto baking/parchment paper or cling film/plastic wrap and form into a ball and then flatten to an even thickness disc and then either a rough square or rectangular shape. See Photo 4 (This will make it easier when rolling out later). **Note if you are going to use a cookie cutter to cut out the snacks, you don’t need to flatten into a square or rectangular shape.
6. Loosely wrap the dough in the paper (or cling film/plastic wrap) & put in the fridge for 1 hour. This is crucial and makes re-rolling of the dough scraps easier too. Go wash the dishes or have a rest and a coffee 🙂
7. Prepare your baking sheets/tray(s) by lightly oiling them and placing baking/parchment paper on top. (This is if they have no lip – my cookies have fell off the baking tray/sheet before and you don’t want that).
8. Give the dough a few hard bangs with the rolling pin whilst pushing down and putting a lot of weight on it. Open out the paper & now roll out and try to get an even thickness all-around of about ¼ ” or 6mm. (Lightly flour baking/parchment paper for rolling if you used cling film/plastic wrap).
Any cracks forming when rolling, just join back together before continuing rolling.
9. Easiest method for making in square or rectangular shape is to use a cookie cutter. I could not find the correct size round cutter so use the larger end of an extra large piping nozzle. I also used a push-release star cutter. (See Photos 5 & 6).
10. Simply dip the cutter in a little flour before cutting out the shapes from the rolled out dough.
11. Set the oven now to heat up to 170 °c /150 °c Fan Oven/325 °f/Gas Mark 3.
12. Transfer the cut out shapes to the prepared baking tray/sheet, leaving a little gap in-between. (Note if youare going to chill these and make next day, you don’t need to leave any gaps until you come to bake them).
13. Take a wooden cocktail stick or BBQ skewer to make 2 holes in the centre of each square/star, going down about half way. (If making a big batch, for speed, I held 2 bbq sticks with a little gap in-between to make 2 holes at once). See Photos 6, 7 & 8.
14. Now roll up the excess dough and roll out to the same thickness as before and cut out more squares. Repeat until all dough is used up. Place remaining dough squares onto the sheet/tray and pop in the fridge while the oven comes to temperature.
15. Bake in the oven for about 8 – 10 minutes, turning sheets/tray(s) during baking to ensure an even bake. With the colour of the smoked paprika it is more difficult to tell when done. For plain ones, they are done when golden, but at about 8 minutes. They will be puffed up & when you will be able to move them slightly, when gently pushed, take them out. Mine bake at between 7 – 9 minutes depending on shape & size. See Photos 9 & 10 below. Note the tiny ones took about 7 minutes. I also made some squares a little bigger than 1″/2½ cm and these took about 10-11 minutes.
16. They will still be a little soft, so leave on the baking sheet/tray for at least 5 minutes, before transferring to a cooling rack, paper and all. See Photos 9 & 10. They will deflate just a little once out of the oven.
17. Eat when you can’t wait any longer and store in a tin or airtight container (if there is any left that is!)
No Square Cookie Cutter? Form dough into a square before rolling out into a rough square. Use a knife & long ruler to cut out strips then squares, about 12/2.5cm wide. You will see this method in the cheezee squares video.
CHEESPICY SMOKIN’ SQUARES
For the spicy version, make as above, but add the following to the dry ingredients:
- Swap 1 tsp Smoked Paprika with 1 tsp Hot Smoked Paprika
- 2 tsp Oregano (rounded/heaped)
- 1 tsp Cumin
- 2 tsp Dried Rosemary in place of Cumin above, & knead into final dough.
DIFFICULTY RATING – Easy, Beginner Level
Download The Lessons:
Thanks for reading & watching the video. Please let me know if you make these & enjoy them. Next step is to proceed to Theory Lesson 5 – Mixing Cake Batter & Dense Cakes.
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Recipe Card – Abbreviated Recipe
Easy Peasy Smokin’ Cheezee Squares & Stars
- Scales or measuring cups
- Measuring Spoons
- Small cookie or pastry cutter (2½ – 3¾cm or 1 – 1½" diameter Square, Round, Star cutter – optional)
- Food Processor
- Baking/parchment paper
- Spray Oil or bottled (optional)
- 2 Large baking trays/sheets
- Cooling rack
- Wooden Cocktail stick or BBQ Skewer x 2
- Timer or Phone Timer
- 226 grams Scottish Extra Mature Cheese (2¼ cup, 8 oz, Extra Sharp Cheddar or any mature/sharp hard cheese.)
- 58 grams Butter, unsalted (½ stick, 2 oz, cubed. If using salted, omit salt)
- 126 grams Plain Flour (4½ oz, or 1 cup All Purpose flour)
- ½ tsp Salt (omit if using Salted butter)
- 1 tsp Smoked Paprika, non spicy (or Mustard Powder)
- ½ tsp Garlic Powder (or Onion Powder/flakes)
- 3 tbsp Cold Water (45ml, 1½ fl oz, approx. You may need more)
Prepare The Dough
- Cube the butter & leave out a little to take the cold edge off. It doesn’t need to be soft. Meanwhile gather the ingredients.
- Grate/shred the cheese & place all ingredients but the water into a food processor. Pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
- Add in the cold water & pulse again until all combined. You can watch this process in the video below. The mixture suddenly comes together in a ball, cleaning the sides of the bowl as it does. You might need a little more water to get to this stage, but add in very small drops.
- Tip the dough onto baking/parchment paper or cling film/plastic wrap & form into a disc or square/rectangular shape. Wrap in paper or cling film/plastic wrap & put in the fridge for 1 hour.
Shape The Cheese Squares
- Prepare your baking sheets/tray(s) by lightly greasing them & placing baking/parchment paper on top.
- Heat up the oven to 170°c/150°c Fan Oven/325°f/Gas Mark 3.
- Roll out the dough to a thickness all-around of about ¼" or 6mm on lightly floured baking/parchment paper. If you are able to roll out into a square or rectangular shape, this will make cutting into squares with a knife easier. (You can trim to a rectangular shape). Alternatively, if using a cookie or pastry cutter, roll any shape.
- For the squares cut by hand, cut vertical strips, leaving a 1"/2½cm gap in-between. Then turn the baking/parchment paper so you can cut lines in the opposite direction to make 1"/2½cm wide squares. Transfer the squares of dough on to the prepared baking tray/sheets(s) & leave a little space in-between them. Roll out the excess dough and cut more squares.
- If using a cookie or pastry cutter, dip in some flour & cut out as many shapes as you can. Then re-roll the excess dough & cut out till all the dough is used.
- Use a BBQ skewer to make 2 or 3 holes in the centre of each square, going down about half way. Place the prepared cheese squares/shapes in the fridge until the oven is ready.
Bake The Cheesy Squares & Stars
- Bake in the oven for about 8 – 10 minutes, turning sheets/trays during baking to ensure an even bake. They will be puffed up & when you are able to move them slightly, when gently pushed, take them out.
- They will still be a little soft, so leave on the baking sheet/tray for at least 5 minutes, before transferring to a cooling rack, paper and all.
Serving & Storage
- Eat when you can’t wait any longer. Great to nibble with your favourite savoury snacks, you don't even need dip! Store in a tin or airtight container, where they will last at least 4 days.
- Swap 1 tsp Smoked Paprika with 1 tsp Hot Smoked Paprika (spicy)
- 2 tsp Oregano (rounded/heaped)
- 1 tsp Cumin OR knead in 2 tsp dried Rosemary to final dough
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