Let’s take a little quiz. In each of the following scenarios, which would you choose?
Store-bought cracker or store-bought cookie?
Store-bought cracker or homemade cookie?
Homemade cracker or store-bought cookie?
Homemade cracker or homemade cookie?
It might surprise (shock? repulse?) you to know that I would choose the cracker. Yes, if the store-bought cracker was nice and salty, like maybe a Triscuit, I would choose it over a homemade cookie. What can I say – I’m a savory girl.
Knowing that, it probably won’t surprise you to hear that I have fallen head over heels in love with these crackers. I have been a big fan of making my own crackers and until recently, I had my two favorites. But move over kids, there is a new cracker in town. I just served these to my Vegetarian Basics class last week. One of my attendees – a good friend – suggested I call them (Crack)ers. Has someone else copyrighted that name yet? It’s perfect.
This is about as easy as it gets. Soften butter, toast nuts, grate cheese, and you are basically there. Having made them several times now, I can give you some tips.
1) This is the time for good Cheddar cheese. We always have some mild stuff in the cheese drawer for kids quesadillas and you probably do too. Don’t use that cheese. Buy something special and yummy. It will make a difference.
2) Chop the walnuts nice and fine.
3) Double the recipe. Form the dough into two logs, bake one off and wrap and freeze the other. Tiny bit more work for double the crackers and the dough freezes beautifully.
4) If you follow tip #3 and you use a Beater Blade for your standing mixer, switch to the metal blade. This is a very stiff dough and when I quadrupled the recipe (what? 2 sticks and butter and 2 pounds of cheese – I’m not scared), I broke my beater blade. You have been warned.
5) As you are mixing in the flour, you might think to yourself, “This needs some liquid, like milk perhaps.” It doesn’t. (Made that mistake!) Be patient and the dough will come together.
6) Make sure the walnuts are distributed well throughout the dough, otherwise it can be a little tricky to get to the dough to roll out into a snake without falling apart. Totally do-able, just a little annoying.
7) Finally, prepare yourself for the smell coming out of your oven. Ah-mazing!
Crackers Previously on Dana Treat: Parmesan Thyme Crackers, Rosemary Raisin Pecan Crisps
One Year Ago: Chocolate Truffles
Two Years Ago: Classic Currant Scones, Rhubarb Struesel Tart, Bean Tostadas with Sofrito
I’m not giving you a yield here because it totally depends on how small your dough logs are, how thin you slice your crackers, etc. The original recipe said you can get fifty 1-inch round crackers, but honestly I don’t see how that is possible.
¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
¾ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 1/3 cups (8 ounces) grated sharp Cheddar cheese
¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup walnuts, chopped fine
In a small mixing bowl, stir together the flour, salt, cayenne pepper, and black pepper. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the cheese and butter and beat on medium speed until combined. Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until incorporated. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Mix in the walnuts on low speed. The dough should be fairly stiff with small chunks of cheese and walnut visible.
Transfer the dough to parchment paper, waxed paper, or plastic wrap and shape into a log about 1-inch in diameter. (DT: I found it difficult to get the dough this small, so my crackers were bigger. Darn.) Wrap well and place in the refrigerator until hard, about 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a non-stick liner.
Unwrap the log and cut crosswise into ¼-inch thick slices. Arrange the crackers on the prepared pan, spacing them apart about 1 inch.
Bake the crackers until golden brown on the edges and lighter in the center, 7 to 10 minutes, depending on size and thickness. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. The crackers will keep in an airtight container in cool dry place for up to 2 weeks.