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.
Makes 28 (3 1/2 inch crackers) or 72 (2 1/2) inch crackers
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
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).
Adapted from Southern Living's Spicy Cheddar Appetizer Cookies