Photo by Rachael Brugger
Homemade cheese crackers, while they have a shorter shelf life have a more pronounced flavor.
In our quest to "cook out of the processed box” in our farmstead kitchen, we’re always aiming to buy one less item off the grocery shelf and instead make a better-quality and typically more frugal version with our pantry staples. Our 10-year old son, Liam, loves those über-processed cheese crackers that come in bright-red boxes or are shaped like little fish. Could we take on the cracker creation challenge? Read on and be prepared to crunch.
Cracker making involves just a few key ingredients. In this recipe you basically need butter, flour and cheese. A cross between a cookie and a pie crust, these crackers melt in your mouth in a way those store-bought varietals simply can’t. That said, because they don’t have all the preservatives and additives that processed crackers have, we’ve found these best to make in small batches and eat ASAP, as they don’t store well. But we’ll gladly trade shelf live for flavor, and trust us, finishing a batch won’t be a problem.
Another unique element of making your own crackers is the fun-shape factor: You control what you want the cracker to look like, just make sure to roll out the dough as thin as possible. Our "basic everyday version” is just cutting out squares with the pizza cutter. On days we have more time or are trying to do something with flair for a party, we’ll use cookie cutters shaped like stars or hearts. These crackers make a sweet hostess gift: place them in a wide-mouthed canning jar and be sure to include the recipe.
Feel free to use this recipe as a base for experimenting with other types of cheeses and seasonings. We typically make this recipe with aged cheddar to really showcase the taste of the cheese. Next on our list to try: Havarti cheese with some dill. Just remember to chill the dough ahead of time just as you would a pie crust to get a better "puff factor” when baking in the oven.
Recipe: Crispy Cheddar Cheese Crackers
Yield: Approximately 24 crackers, depending on size
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/4 cup butter, softened (1/2 a stick)
- 1/4 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 T. cold water (if needed)
Place flour, cheese, butter, baking powder and salt in food processor and pulse until well-blended. The mixture should clump into a big ball. If it’s too dry, add water.
Remove dough from food processor, and lightly knead into ball. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator, at least two hours or, ideally, overnight.
Remove dough from refigerator, divide into four equal sections and roll out on a floured surface as thin as possible, to about 1/8 inch. Cut dough into shapes with a pizza cutter or cookie cutters.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place crackers on non-stick cookie sheet and bake for about 15 minutes or until lightly browned. The top should pop out and puff up a bit. Remove from oven, and place crackers on a cooking rack to cool.
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