These finger-sized Kaastengels cookies are salty, cheesy, and savory. They are one of the most popular holiday cookies in Indonesia.
If you are not a fan of sweet cookies, how about savory Kaastengels? They are savory cookies, so there is no sugar. They are crunchy, salty, full of cheese inside and out, making them insanely addictive.
What is Kaastengels?
Kaas is the Dutch word for “cheese”, while stengels means “sticks”. Kaastengels or kastengel are Dutch-influenced Indonesian cheese stick cookies.
In the Netherlands, Kaastengels does not look like the ones we know today. There are two versions: kaastengels and kaasstengels. These two words seem identical, but the spelling difference has two different meanings. Kaastangels is fried finger-sized spring roll with gouda or edam cheese filling (spring rolls) and served with sweet chili sauce, while kaasstengels is a traditional puff pastry with cheese on top.
The Dutch were the major colonial force in Indonesia. They brought cheese, butter or pancakes, and some other recipes which have remained in Indonesian cookbooks until nowadays, including these Kaastengels cookies. They are one of the most popular cookies during holidays in Indonesia along with nastar (pineapple tarts), lidah kucing (langue de chat/cat tounge cookies), and kue putri salju (snow white cookies). People usually buy or gift these cookies especially during Chinese New Year, Eid al-Fitr, and Christmas.
Type of Butter to Use
Indonesians are very opinionated towards Wijsman Dutch canned butter. It is the most popular and expensive butter in Indonesia. Apparently, the product itself is hard to find in the Netherlands. Wijsman butter was created specifically for tropical countries and no refrigerators during the colonial time. In fact, this butter can be stored at room temperature.
The Wijsman butter has a higher fat content, more savory taste with a sweeter aroma. That’s why the cookies made with this butter taste better and are more fragrant. You can also use regular butter, but you can still tell the difference.
Type of Cheese to Use
Kaastengels is traditionally made with a special Dutch edam cheese. It is a semi-hard cheese from the Netherlands. Aged-old cheeses are the best for making Kaastengels because they have low moisture and distinct flavor.
If you cannot find edam, you can use:
- Sharp cheddar
If you prefer your cookies to be strong in taste, use edam, gouda, or the combination of the two. For milder cookies, you can use parmesan or cheddar. If using cheddar in the dough, make sure to dry the grated cheese at first to remove its moisture. You can bake it in low heat or let it dry naturally. If not, the cookies may become too soft and crumby.
How to Make Kaastengels
- In a large bowl, mix butter and egg yolks until well combined. If using a hand mixer, make sure not to overmix it or the cookies will be crumbly and spread more. Add cake flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and grated cheese. Mix until just well combined.
- Roll the dough into a rectangle with 0.4-inch/1 cm thickness.
- Cut the dough horizontally about 1.6-inch/4 cm in width. Brush the top with egg yolk and sprinkle with grated cheese. Press the cheese to the dough with a spatula.
- Cut the dough into 0.5-inch/1.2 in cm width and 1.6-inch/4 cm long.
- Arrange them on the baking sheets. Bake at 300F/150ºC for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
- Cool completely on a cooling rack before storing.