I feel quite sure that everyone is familiar with the classic southern cheese straw, right? Those delightful little bites of sharp cheese and cayenne that are served at practically every get-together in the southern states? Well, this recipe is the cheese straw’s first cousin – the cheese pinwheel. Plus it has a little something extra to set it apart and that thing is Mayhaw jelly.
Please raise your hand if you know what Mayhaw jelly is.
<sound of crickets chirping>
Well, then, let me introduce you! Mayhaw jelly is, surprisingly enough, made from Mayhaws. Mayhaws are native to the hot coastal areas of the south and they grow in sandy soils and swampy areas. And, let me tell you, there are plenty of sandy, swampy areas where I grew up. In the swamps and on stream banks all around Colquitt (Miller County), Georgia, you can easily find wild mayhaw trees. The season for mayhaws is pretty short, only about three weeks, and when they ripen in early May several enterprising folks make a business of gathering the fruit and offering it for sale. Colquitt even proclaims itself to be the Mayhaw Capital of the World and holds an annual Mayhaw Festival in honor of this favorite local treat.
When I was growing up we always had jars of Mayhaw jelly in the house. And as far as I’m concerned it’s simply the best jelly I’ve ever had. Mayhaws are kissing cousins to the crabapple and they make the prettiest, clear coral colored jelly you ever saw. The jelly tastes similar to a very sweet apple but with other fruit overtones like mango and pineapple. There’s really nothing quite like splitting open a hot buttermilk biscuit, slathering it with butter and popping in a spoonful of Mayhaw jelly. It’s simply something that has to be experienced to understand.
If you’d like to try this exotic delicacy of Mayhaw jelly for yourself, a couple of excellent sources are:
- Stripling’s General Store: http://www.striplings.com/jelly.aspx
I buy from Stripling’s quite often. They’re famous all around south Georgia for their sausage and the Mayhaw jelly is fabulous, too.
- The Mayhaw Tree: http://www.mayhawtree.com/
- Or you can just call up Wilkin’s IGA in Colquitt (229-758-3371) and ask them to ship you some. They keep it in stock all year round and ship it all over. They’re nice folks and they’ll be glad to help you out with your Mayhaw jelly.
If you just can’t wait to try these Cheese Pinwheels with Mayhaw Jelly and you don’t have any Mayhaw jelly on hand, substitute some good quality apple jelly. It won’t be exactly the same, but it’ll be close.
1 lb. grated extra sharp cheddar cheese
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup pecans, chopped
Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl. Add the grated cheese and mix together thoroughly.
Add the softened butter, salt, paprika and cayenne pepper. Mix until all the ingredients are incorporated and form a dough. I usually mix as much as I can with a wooden spoon and then dump everything out onto a board and keep working the dough until I get it to come together. It takes a little effort, but it will eventually get itself together.
Divide the dough into two balls and wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for about 20 minutes.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll each into a square or rectangle approximately 1/4 inch thick. I use a bench scraper to help me shape the dough. Keep rolling and shaping the sides with the scraper until you get something resembling that above.
Now for the best part! Spread the dough thinly with Mayhaw jelly then sprinkle all over with the chopped pecans.
Roll each into a log.
Confession time – I’m just going to tell you that this is not the easiest dough to work with. It wants to crack and crumble but you just have to go slowly remolding it all the time. I have to roll up a few inches, pinch and remold the dough, roll a little more, pinch it all together again…see? Don’t be discouraged, though, just take your time and it will come together beautifully.
Wrap in the rolls in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Slice each roll into pinwheels about 1/4 inch thick. Bake for approximately 15 minutes.
Remove to a cooling rack.
These are great to serve at a shower or reception with tea. Or just have a couple of an ice cold Cola-Cola.
Some other posts you might like with recipes for Cheese Pinwheels:
- Savory Bacon, Onion and Cheese Pinwheels from The Biscuit Barrel
- Taste of Home’s Spinach-Cheese Pinwheels
- Mamie’s Famous Cheese Wafers from The Nibble