cheddar crisps

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As someone who enjoys baking, sometimes I tend to forget about the other half of the world. You know, that “savory” half. Baking isn’t all about cupcakes and muffins.

And honestly, sometimes there are only so many sweets you can take… I mean it’s rare but every once in a while I hit a wall where I feel like I am literally going to hurl if I see one. more. freaking. cookie. Like for real.

Enter: these crackers. Your saviors. They are here to give you a delightfully salty treat when one more cookie is the last thing you need. They are light and crisp and packed with cheesy flavor, thanks to the extra sharp cheddar.

You don’t have to use cheddar, but you will want to use a nice strong cheese to make sure your flavors stand out. Some browning on the bottom of your cracker will also help you in this department, as will a sprinkle of smoked paprika on top… if you feel so inclined.

cheddar crisps

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Ingredients

  • 8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 cup grated extra sharp cheddar cheese*
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 cup + 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse butter until it is broken up. Add the cheese, salt, and spices and pulse until the mixture forms small curd-like pieces.
  2. Add flour and pulse until the dough forms into a loose dough with pea-sized clumps, about 1 minute.
  3. Turn dough out onto a clean work surface and knead it gently until a cohesive dough forms. Divide the dough in half and pat each half into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour, or until firm.
  4. Working 1 disk at a time, roll the dough out between sheets of parchment to 1/4-inch thick. Using a cookie or biscuit cutter, cut into round disks (I used a 1-inch cutter), placing the rounds onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Gather the scraps and re-roll and cut the remaining dough (I did this twice). Repeat with second disk of dough.
  5. Place baking sheet, lightly wrapped with plastic, in the refrigerator until you are ready to bake.
  6. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350F degrees. If desired, sprinkle disks with sea salt and bake for 15 to 17 minutes until the bottoms start to brown.
  7. Once you remove them from the oven, sprinkle them with sweet or smoked paprika and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Notes

* Dorie uses Gruyere in her book, she also recommends Comte or Emmenthal as well. Any semi-firm cheese should work here.

* This dough can either be rolled and cut, as in the directions, or chilled into a log and sliced into 1/4-inch disks. Whichever you prefer.

http://wee-eats.com/2015/01/27/cheddar-crisps/

[ Recipe from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan]

graham crackers

graham crackers

I know they’re not technically “cookies”, but I don’t think you can really call them “crackers” either.  Either way, I’ve been following smitten kitchen for years now, and finally got around to making her home-made grahams.  I intended to use these to make s’mores, but none of them survived.  Funny, because I don’t remember putting crack in them…

These are magical, with a nice crunch and an added depth of flavor from the dark brown sugar.  Probably too crisp for s’mores, unfortunately.  I am pretty sure you would make a huge mess and squish marshmallow everywhere before you made it through the graham.  Crunchy.  Very, very crunchy.

But I loved these anyway, and couldn’t stop eating them.  They are a far cry from your grocery stores graham crackers, so I think I will need to try a few more recipes before I find one that is s’more appropriate.

Ha, “s’more appropriate,” I didn’t even do that on purpose! :)

Graham CrackersMakes 10 4 x 4.5-inch graham crackers or 48 2-inch squares

[ Printable Recipe ]

  • 2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (375 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (176 grams) dark brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 teaspoon (6 grams) baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt (4 grams)
  • 7 tablespoons (3 1/2 ounces or 100 grams) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen
  • 1/3 cup (114 grams) mild-flavored honey, such as clover
  • 5 tablespoons (77 grams) milk, full-fat is best
  • 2 tablespoons (27 grams) pure vanilla extract

Topping (optional)

  • 3 tablespoons (43 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (5 grams) ground cinnamon

Make the dough:

Combine the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade Pulse or mix on low to incorporate. Add the butter and pulse on and off on and off, until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal.

In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, milk, and vanilla extract. Add to the flour mixture and pulse on and off a few times or mix on low until the dough barely comes together. It will be very soft and sticky.

Lay out a large piece of plastic wrap and dust it lightly with flour, then turn the dough out onto it and pat it into a rectangle about 1-inch thick. Wrap it, then chill it until firm, about 2 hours or overnight.

Meanwhile, prepare the topping, if using (I didn’t), by combining the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and setting aside.

Roll out the crackers:

Divide the dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator. Sift an even layer of flour onto the work surface and roll the dough into a long rectangle about 1/8 inch thick. The dough will be sticky, so flour as necessary.

Trim the edges of the rectangle to 4 inches wide. Working with the shorter side of the rectangle parallel to the work surface, cut the strip every 4 1/2 inches to make 4 crackers. You can make them smaller if you like.

Place the crackers on parchment-lined baking sheets and sprinkle with the topping. Chill until firm, about 30 to 45 minutes in the fridge or 15 to 20 minutes in the freezer. Repeat with the second batch of dough. Finally, gather any scraps together into a ball, chill until firm, and re-roll.

Adjust the oven rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat the oven to 350°F.

Decorate the crackers:

Mark a vertical line down the middle of each cracker, being careful not to cut through the dough and using a toothpick or skewer, prick the dough to form two dotted rows about 1/2 inch for each side of the dividing line.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the touch, rotating the sheets halfway through to ensure even baking.

*If you don’t have a food processor or electric mixer, you can cut the ingredients together with a pastry blender. Just make sure they’re very well incorporated.

*You can make these ahead of time, cut and freeze in layers of parchment for up to 2 months

 

[ adapted from smitten kitchen who adapted it from 101 Cookbooks ]

supermarket hack: home made wheat thins

wheat thins main

Wheat thins are a tasty snack that you’re supposed to feel good about eating. Not that they’re necessarily good for you, but for some reason once you put “wheat” on the box, you get warm-fuzzies inside when you see it. I don’t know if any of you have tried making Cheez-its, but I came to the discovered that anytime that you can take something that you would normally buy in a box and make it yourself, you feel better about eating it. No more words you can’t pronounce, no more preservatives or artificial flavors. While I tend to go for more… let’s say “decadent” recipes, it’s good to mix it up with a (relatively) more healthful one every now and then.

So, my health-conscious friends, this is for you. While I tried to be ultra-healthful by using 100% whole wheat flour, I can’t feel good about recommending you do the same. It made the texture and taste just a little bit off. I would suggest using a mixture of whole-wheat and white flours, which is actually what Nabisco uses (who knew). I would also recommend not rolling them quite as thin as the original recipe requested.

The recipe below will include the original measurements, and my notes if you want to skip that whole “trial-and-error”/”learning-from-your-own-mistakes” business and get straight to the good stuff. Upon reading the box ingredients, I might try these again with a few adjustments… :)

Home-Made Wheat Thins

[ Printable Recipe ]

  • 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour (I recommend a mixture of whole wheat & white)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus extra for topping
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 400 F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Add the flour, sugar, salt and paprika to a the bowl of a food processor, pulse for a couple seconds. Add butter and pulse until the mixture forms small beads (just a couple seconds).

3. Combine the water and vanilla in a small measuring cup and add to flour mixture. Pulse until dough comes together into a ball. Divide the dough into 4 pieces.

4.   Work with one piece at a time, keeping the others covered with a towel so they don’t dry out (i kept mine under the upside-down food processor bowl). Roll into rectangle on lightful floured surface, lifting and turning to make sure it doesn’t stick. You want to roll the dough as thin as possible (they recommend 1/16″-thick, which I thought was a little too thin).

5. Transfer your rectangle to a sheet of parchment. Use a pizza cutter to cut the rectangle into squares about 1 to 1-1/2 inches wide. You don’t really have to separate them, if you remember from my cheez-its, they will bake just fine if you don’t take the time to separate them. (Although these aren’t going to poof like the cheez-its did)

6. Sprinkle the squares lightly with salt.  Repeat the rolling and cutting process with the remaining 3 pieces of dough.

7. Bake the crackers, one sheet at a time, until crisp and browned, about 5-10 minutes.  If some begin to brown too quickly, feel free to remove them while the rest bake away. They will cook quickly so KEEP AN EYE ON THEM.  Once brown and crisp, transfer to a plate to cool.  Once cooled, store the crackers in an airtight container.

* If they are still warm when you put them in the container they’ll end up gross and soft – so don’t do that.

[ Adapted from KAF ]

Home-made “Cheez-Its”

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Costco is a dangerous place. It lures you in with promises of cheap goods, then forces you to buy crazy things you would never consider buying otherwise… like an entire 2 lb block of cheese. There are only two people living in this house, what are we going to do with a 2 lb block of cheese? There’s no way we can eat the entire thing and live to tell about it. I can hear my arteries crying just looking at the the thing…

Well, the Boy talked me into this particular block of cheese, and while it’s delicious, it has been plaguing me for what seems like a lifetime. I’m sure it’s only been a month or so, but it’s always in there… taunting me. How many cheeseburgers do I have to make before I work through it? What about sandwiches for lunch? Shred some for tacos or enchiladas, I suppose. Maybe some nachos? Grilled cheese? But it’s white cheddar… white cheddar grilled cheese? Hmmm. Or on pasta? No thanks. A girl can only eat so much cheese…

Then – epiphany! Cheez-its are delicious, right? And gold fish crackers? Yum! White cheddar? Um, hello, way better than orange-dyed cheddar. So finally, I had something to do with my salty, extra-sharp behemoth.

Plus, I got these neat rubber-band things that I put on my rolling pin to ensure I roll to the correct thickness 100% of the time and I’ve been looking for an excuse to use them. So now I got to try them- and it was way better than guessing how thick my dough was or making futile attempts to measure the thickness, and worrying that it wasn’t rolled evenly… I swear I’m not neurotic. You worry about these things too, right?

These crackers are amazing! They’re like little pillows of cheesy, salty, buttery goodness. Plus, they’re super cute. I mean seriously. Look at how cute they are! I think I’ll make some for our next get-together so everyone can bask in the cuteness.

Cheez-its – Adapted from Country Living

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  • 1 c AP flour
  • 4 Tbsp cold, unsalted butter; cubed
  • 8 oz cheddar cheese, shredded (I used extra-sharp white cheddar)
  • ¾ tsp salt, separated into ¼ tsp and ½ tsp
  • ¼ tsp pepper (a couple turns of your pepper grinder)
  • Up to 4 Tbsp cold water
  • 1/8 tsp ground cayenne (optional)

Make dough: Pulse all ingredients (except water) in the food processor until the mixed. Slowly pour cold water (1 Tbsp at a time) through the opening while pulsing just until the mixture sticks together, forming into a ball. It’ll look something like…

Remove and gather into one solid chunk. Flatten it into a general rectangle-ish shape (it will make it chill faster and also make it easier to roll out) and place into the fridge for at least 20 minutes.

When ready to bake: Preheat oven to 350F. Roll the dough to 1/8 inch thick. Using a knife or pizza cutter, slice into squares (if you want to be fancy you can use any shape of cookie cutter your heart desires). Sprinkle with salt and place on two parchment-lined sheet pans. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until crispy and lightly browned. Cool completely on a wire rack before transferring to a bowl or container to avoid any steam moistening the crackers.

*Tips

*I separated most of my crackers, which was tedious. There were a few towards the end that I didn’t bother separating but baked up just fine regardless (figures). I also poked little holes in the centers to look more cheez-it-y… It didn’t really make a difference.

*I added a little cayenne and it didn’t make them spicy at all, but probably added a little depth to the flavor. I think next time I will use chipotle (because chipotle owns my soul).

*Set a timer! I nearly forgot about my second batch… well, I did forget until I smelled them. Luckily I caught them before they burned!

*If you want perfect crackers you can keep re-rolling and re-cutting, I just figured all the ugly side-scrap pieces were just bonus treats for me, ya know, as quality control

*They puffed up so much that next time I will probably roll them even thinner, which will yield more crackers that are (hopefully) even crispier!