Haitian cheese sticks: my very first baking lesson
Haitian cheese sticks are probably the very first pastry I ever baked.
I was about eight or nine when I took my baby steps into the baking world. At the time, I could barely reach our kitchen countertop. I had to stand on one of our dining room chairs whenever I wanted to be my mom’s assistant in the kitchen.
Haitian cheese sticks were my favorite recipe to work with. They were easy to prepare and did not require weird ingredients to be caught in my hands. The ideal course for the picky girl that I was.
Our recipe for Haitian cheese sticks only requires three key ingredients, which I quickly memorized. To this day, I can still repeat the recipe instructions word for word as my mom taught me back then.
To prepare cheese sticks, you need equal parts of butter, flour and cheese.
Simply put, the recipe requires one stick of butter for each cup of flour and cheese. When I say cheese, I most definitely refer to the inevitable Tête de Maure or the very Haitian Dutch cheese as I often call it. That cheese is none other than aged Edam cheese.
The simplicity of this recipe wasn’t the only reason cheese sticks had become my favorite. This dough did not require eggs. The young girl that I was hated eggs and the thought of touching them. That in itself was a win for me especially since we mixed the dough by hand.
Yes, back then, a recipe’s ingredient list was a determining factor for me to join my mom in the kitchen!
Eggs or not, I still struggled with this preparation, however. Although it is possible to spread the dough with a rolling pin and cut it into different shapes using cookie cutters, my mother has always rolled our cheese sticks by hand. It was, thus, impossible for me to avoid handling the dough with my bare hands.
Getting my hands dirty was not appealing to me, as I have mentioned before. A raw dough could stick under my fingers. And that was my worst nightmare.
With time, however, I let go of that apprehension. Perched on my high chair, I discovered the joy of rolling out that dough alongside my mom. She would pre-cut it for me to make sure our sticks were uniform. We would repeat this process over and over again until we completely filled our baking pan.
I loved rolling the dough even more because I could sneak in a few pieces of raw dough in my mouth. I actually probably ended up eating as much dough as I rolled sticks for baking. I simply loved the saltiness and cheesiness of the raw dough. And I still do.
To this day, I prepare my cheese sticks the same way. I go over my mother’s instructions in my head and roll those cheese sticks by hand. And of course, I still eat far too much raw dough.
Haitian Cheese Sticks
This is perhaps the easiest and quickest cheese stick recipe you'll ever find. To be true to Haitian flavors, this recipe calls for Tête de Maure cheese, a bold aged Edam cheese which is saltier than the mild version.
- 1 cup of flour
- 1 stick of butter
- 1 or 2 cups of cheese
Mix all the ingredients together to form a dough
Pinch a small piece of dough. Roll it in your hands to make sticks
Put on a baking sheet
Bake at 350 for about 35-45 minutes until golden
Though the original recipe calls for 1 cup of cheese, I sometimes play with the proportions. The more cheese, the bolder the sticks will be especially if the Edam is not aged.
For fancier cheese sticks, you can always roll the dough with a rolling pin and cut it with cookie cutters in your desired shape.