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These savory snacks comes from the beautiful new Mississippi Current Cookbook: A Culinary Journey Down America’s Greatest River (Lyons Press) by Regina Charboneau. The Paris-trained chef is the culinary director of the American Queen, the luxury paddlewheel boat that travels the Mississippi. She also hosts guests at Twin Oaks Bed and Breakfast, her antebellum home in her native Natchez, Miss. She likes to serve these during afternoon tea with cocktails. I recently made them for a shower and they were a hit. They also freeze well, and are great to have on hand for just about any friendly occasion. – Susan Puckett
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons Tabasco or other hot pepper sauce
2 cups all-purpose flour
5 cups (about 1 1/2 pounds) grated sharp cheddar cheese
2 cups pecan halves
Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the Worcestershire and hot sauce and blend for 30 seconds. Add the flour and cheddar in batches, scraping down the sides of the bowl and paddle as needed between additions and mixing just until it comes together as dough. (The dough will hold together, but the grated cheese will remain visible.)
Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into four balls. With your hands, shape each ball into a log about 2 inches in diameter. Wrap each log separately in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Place the logs on a work surface, unwrap, and slice each into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Place the rounds on the prepared baking sheets, 1/2 inch apart. Press a pecan half into the center of each round. Bake one baking sheet at a time on the middle rack of the oven. (If you bake both baking sheets at the same time, swap racks halfway through the cooking time.)
Bake until the edges are golden brown, about 12 minutes. (The pennies may seem soft in the center, but they will firm up when they cool.) Transfer the pennies to a wire rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.
The cooked pennies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week at room temperature.
Makes about 60