Nov 1, 2012

Spicy Cheddar Crackers

Crackers have been around since 1792 when a Massachusetts baker made a cracker-like bread product using only flour and water. Used by sailors and soldiers because if its shelf life, it also became known as hardtack or sea biscuit. There are pieces of hardtack in existence today that date from the Civil War. That's an impressive shelf life!

These crackers are much tastier (and cuter) than hardtack. Southern Living calls them "cookies". They don't have so much of a crispy snap, but more of the rich, textured bite you would get in a pie crust.



Cutting round crackers with my grandmother's biscuit cutter 


Spicy Cheddar Crackers
Makes 28 (3 1/2 inch crackers) or 72 (2 1/2) inch crackers

Ingredients:
1 (10 oz.) block sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsalted butter (I used salted), cut into 4 pieces and at room temperature
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper (I used ground red pepper)
2 tablespoons half and half

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pulse first 5 ingredients in a food processor at 5 second intervals until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add half and half, and process 10 seconds or until dough forms a ball. (At this point, dough may be wrapped in plastic wrap, sealed in a zip top plastic bag and refrigerated for up to 3 days).

2. Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface; divide dough in half for ease of handling. (At this point, I divided the dough in half, wrapped each half in plastic wrap, shaped the dough halves into discs and refrigerated for about 15 minutes. The dough is easier to handle if it's chilled).

3. On floured surface, roll dough to 1/8". The crackers won't be as crispy if the dough is not rolled this thin. Cut dough with 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 inch cookie cutters. Carefully place cutouts on parchment lined cookie sheets. Prick evenly with a fork or toothpick to prevent the crackers from puffing up as they bake. Bake 16-18 minutes (mine took anywhere from about 11 minutes to about 20 minutes, depending on size) or until golden. Cool in pan on wire racks for 30 minutes.

4. Repeat step 3 with remaining half of dough.


The recipe warned to position cookie cutters close together to cut out shapes because the dough would be tough if rerolled. I did reroll scraps, just to see, and I did not find the crackers to be tough. I rerolled as lightly as I could with as little flour as I could.

If you want to top some of the crackers with seeds (I used sesame seeds and poppy seeds), mix one egg white with 1 teaspoon water. Just before baking, brush tops of crackers lightly with egg white, then sprinkle seeds and bake.

Crackers can be stored in an air tight container (I used a wax paper-lined tin). They are best served the day they are made. You can serve them the next day, just crisp them up in the oven for a couple of minutes right before serving (about 2 minutes at 400 degrees; watch them closely so that they don't over-brown).




Individual portions- just right for a party!






Adapted from Southern Living's Spicy Cheddar Appetizer Cookies

5 comments:

  1. Oh, these sound good. I must admit I would omit the red pepper or add just a teeny tiny bit because I am a hot spice wimp. Ha! : ) Oh, and I love that you have your grandmother's biscuit cutter!

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  2. Thank you! Red pepper CAN be a little zingy! I think it would be fine with half the amount or even omitted. I just barely noticed the spiciness myself, but I like hot foods. :)

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  3. Hi Joy,
    I just love this recipe and all the little shapes that you used. I can almost taste these little treats! Hope you have a fantastic week and thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday.
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Miz Helen! I had a great time at your party! :)

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  4. Beautiful homemade crackers Joy! I am going to make up a batch this weekend to go along with some homemade tomato soup. I bet they'll be perfect!

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