I have never had any interest in making my own Crackers. I saw Alton Brown making some on his show several years ago and I thought, Nope, not worth the effort. I don’t even like Crackers that much. I’m just not much of a snacker I guess. I’d rather have a mini meal than some chips or Crackers. But then I listened to how Mark Bittman described making his own crackers. He said it was basically like a pastry dough rolled out very thin.
Hmm…Pastry dough? Pastry? Well, I love pastry.
So I thought I’d give it a try and serve them (if they were any good) to my husband’s family when they come tomorrow for our Christmas gift exchange. We’re cooking chili and I thought some extra sharp cheddar crackers sounded like a great accompaniment. Plus, the bonus is that my husband’s grandfather loves crackers. I think he even travels with his own. I do hope he won’t mind the switch.
Mark Bittman makes Parmesan Cream Crackers, and I used his recipe as a guide, but I wanted to make them my own by using some really good extra sharp cheddar cheese in place of the parmesan. They came out really well, and were so easy to make, I could have made 5 batches in no time. Seriously, these were one of the easiest things I have ever made. Next time I make these I will definitely play around with the flavors and add some chopped herbs or garlic powder, maybe even some chili powder and lime zest.
These homemade crackers would make a great hostess gift this holiday season or a good thing to serve at a wine and cheese party you may be hosting. Think about how fancy you’ll sound when someone says, ‘Oohh, these crackers are so delicious! Wherever did you buy them?’ And you could be like, ‘Buy them? Hell, I made these suckers!’ (Ok, so maybe you’ll sound a little fancier than I just did, but you get the point.)
So, here you go, friends- a recipe for something I thought I’d never be needing, but I’m so happy I was wrong. Enjoy!
*Homemade Cheddar Crackers
(yields about 4 servings)
-In the bowl of your food processor, add 1 cup of AP flour, 1/2 tsp kosher salt + an extra pinch, 3/4 cup finely grated Extra Sharp Cheddar cheese (you will have to grate your own because you can’t find pre-shredded Extra sharp and I don’t believe there is a substitute for it. Plain sharp or medium cheddar just doesn’t have the same flavor) and 4 TB cold unsalted butter. Pulse this until the butter has broken down and been distributed.
-With the mixer on, slowly drizzle in some half and half or heavy cream (about 1/4 cup) until the mixture comes together but is not wet. You want it to later come together as a dough ball with the warmth of your hands only.
-Turn the dough onto a floured surface and form a ball. Roll this out to about 1/4 inch thickness and use a pizza cutter to score it into squares so that you can easily break it apart once it’s baked. If you don’t do this, you can always break apart your cooked dough into jagged shapes, it’s completely up to you.
-Transfer the rolled out dough onto a lightly floured cookie sheet and sprinkle with some more salt (I like to use Maldon Sea Salt as my finishing salt).
-Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown.
-Allow to cool for a bit on the cookie sheet until it hardens, then transfer to a cooling rack. Cool completely before breaking into pieces.
-Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 3-4 days.
(These cheddar crackers are extremely close in flavor to those Cheez-Its you can buy for several dollars in the store. So if you’re a big fan, and want to save some money, I suggest you try making your own!)