The New Favorite Cracker

May 3, 2011

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

Cheddar Crackers

Tartine

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.



17 Comments »

  1. Can you maybe start a recipe box for us?? I need a way to remember these creations that you have so lovingly perfected for us! Thank you and Happy Mothers Day!

    Comment by toni — May 4, 2011 @ 2:08 am

  2. Yum. Savory homemade crackers. I must make these but first must get good cheddar (I only have kid cheddar right now).

    Comment by Charlotte — May 4, 2011 @ 2:39 am

  3. Honestly, I would choose the homemade cookie, but not a store bought one over a homemade cracker. These sound and look as amazing as you’ve described them, bookmarked!

    Comment by Jacqui — May 4, 2011 @ 3:17 am

  4. I always think I don’t really love crackers. Then you put a bowl in front of me. Apparently my love of all things carbohydrate really does not discern between sweet and salty. Plus if they’re Dana-approved then they must be good! And they have cheese. Good cheese. Gotta love that in a cracker.

    Comment by Joanne — May 4, 2011 @ 4:38 pm

  5. mmmmmmmm… I’d totally choose crackers over cookies any day!
    When reading the questions, I kept looking for the trick ;o)

    Comment by Lisa Faley — May 4, 2011 @ 6:08 pm

  6. I do love a cracker (but I’m not one to turn down a cookie either). These ones look delicious and I think it’s about time to make some myself.

    Comment by kickpleat — May 4, 2011 @ 6:18 pm

  7. I pick the cracker without even blinking…. savory girl here too

    Must make these once I’m back in my own kitchen, they look awesome!

    Comment by SallyBR — May 4, 2011 @ 6:41 pm

  8. Another member of the savory sisterhood here….Your CRACK(ers)seem to be very well-named, with stellar potential of dethroning Wheat Thins in the addictive cracker category of foods…These will be finding their way into my oven…soon!! Thank you for yet another fabulous offering (and for your well-described tips/heads up regarding stiff dough…refraining from adding liquid,etc…) Bookmarked…indeed!

    Comment by Donna — May 4, 2011 @ 9:28 pm

  9. dumb question… do you serve them on their own? with a cheese? grapes? I’ve got a ladies only soiree Friday night (my hockey team!) and I’d love to take these

    Comment by catherine — May 5, 2011 @ 2:58 am

  10. I think these are going to be my new favorite thing ;)

    Comment by brooke — May 5, 2011 @ 11:25 pm

  11. Ok, these are officially on my to-make list! I don’t have too many crackers in my repertoire, and I need some!!, so I’m definitely going to give them a try. Mmm… cheese, yes!!

    Comment by elizabeth / sophisticated pie — May 6, 2011 @ 3:33 pm

  12. I’m a sweets girl but I love a homemade cracker! These sound fabulous!

    Comment by natalie (the sweets life) — May 6, 2011 @ 6:05 pm

  13. “theres a new cracker in town” lol you are too funny!
    Love the crackers!

    Comment by leslie — May 7, 2011 @ 2:43 am

  14. These sound absolutely delicious. And I am sure my husband will thank you very much if I make these. :D

    Comment by Karin — May 7, 2011 @ 11:33 am

  15. made them Dana and they were delish. they really do shine on their own and need very little served along side – save for a big bottle of red (but maybe that’s just me). thanks for the great idea. it was my first go at crackers and it won’t be my last.

    Comment by catherine — May 11, 2011 @ 2:13 am

  16. I have never made my own crackers before, but now I just might have to. Thanks for the great recipe!

    Comment by Mary — May 12, 2011 @ 2:26 am

  17. I would much rather have a homemade cracker (especially this one!) than a cookie! These look amazing.

    Comment by Ashley — June 18, 2011 @ 4:55 pm



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