Making Cheese Wafers

My grandmother was born and raised in Chicago, but these wafers seem to me to be Southern in origin. Not only are they topped with pecans, but their flavor profile bears an uncanny resemblance to a classic Southern spread: pimento cheese. Regardless of where they come from you’ll find them rich, tasty and refined. Begin by preheating your oven to 325. Combine the flour, salt and cayenne pepper in a bowl or the bowl of a mixer fitted with the beater and stir on low.

When the dry ingredients are combined, add in the soft butter.

Beat on medium for about two minutes until a dough forms, about like so:

Now add the finely grated cheddar cheese.

The trick to this recipe is to incorporate the cheese thoroughly, to the point that the mixture is virtually homogenous, like a spread. This is why a mixer is handy. If you don’t have one, just knead the dough aggressively until you don’t see the individual shreds of cheese much anymore.

Now roll the dough into small balls and lay them out on an ungreased sheet pan or cookie sheet.

Press them down lightly into disks…

…and top each with a pecan.

Bake about half an hour, cool completely, then break out the peanuts, Manhattans and gin & tonics — because it’s cocktail hour, my friends. Have a lovely weekend.

15 thoughts on “Making Cheese Wafers”

  1. I made this recipe this weekend with Daiya cheese and they were fabulous, so if anyone is Vegan out there it works with this cheese.

    1. Linda, you’re like my Vegan shadow! I appreciate you re-tooling the recipe for those out there of like mind! – J

  2. I am fortunate enough to live across the street from Joe and thus reap the occasional benefit of his baking.

    He brought us over a bunch of these and they were good enough that my wife and I got into a West Side Story style knife fight over who got the last one.

    She enjoyed it.

    1. So that’s what the scars are from. Dude, you’re wife was a Marine. Be careful.

  3. Being from New Mexico, it did not seem worth the bother to take out the cayenne for just 1/4 tsp. So I retooled this a little for the Southwest. Toast 1 Tablespoon New Mexico red chile in a dry saute pan; watch carefully as it can quickly go from fragrant to burnt. Add this to the flour and salt in your bowl. Also substitute 1 Tablespoon cornmeal for an equal amount of the flour – adds nice crunch and complements the chile. Proceed with the recipe. At 5,000 ft, I baked the wafers @ 350F for 20 minutes, turned the baking sheets around and baked another 10 minutes. I took these to a pot-luck and they were perfect with Margaritas.

    1. Fabulous, Melinda! This is of course my gandmother’s recipe. Folks were pretty light on the cayenne in the 50’s. Can’t wait to try your version!

  4. My mom would like to make these for my wedding reception in Oct, but we’re only seeing instructions…not measurements. Are we missing something?

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