Makes: 36 appetizers
Prep Time: 20 minutes | Cook Time: 20 minutes
I brought these to a party the other night, not sure anyone would like them because they are so retro. I was wrong! Everyone was asking me for the recipe. So here it is, with full credit to Marianna Leuschel, who included this in her charming family cookbook. Serve with beer, wine, or martinis (use the leftover olive juice to make them “dirty”).
2 cups (8 ounces) finely grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
About 36 “queen” or large pimiento-stuffed olives (see note below)
Preheat an oven to 400°F. Put the cheese in a food processor fitted with the metal blade (you can grate it first in the processor, then switch blades). Add the butter, flour, and cayenne. Whirl until dough is blended, but does not form a ball. Remove metal blade and transfer dough to a bowl. With a rubber spatula, work dough in bowl into a rough ball.
To make by hand, beat grated cheese and butter in a bowl, then stir in flour and cayenne and beat until smooth.
Drain olives and pat dry on paper towels. To shape poppers, scoop about 1 heaping teaspoon of dough into the palm of your hand and roll it into a ball. Then flatten it into a disk between your palms, place an olive on the dough and shape the dough around the olive, completely sealing it. Place on an ungreased baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough and olives. You will need two baking sheets.
Bake until they smell delicious and the dough looks dry and golden, about 20 minutes. Serve warm.
note: this amount of dough covered olives from one large jar plus one small jar, but that may vary by brand. You can use smaller olives, but you will need more of them. This recipe easily halves for fewer appetizers.