All of last week, I was craving cheese crackers. And they’re terrible for a person — have you ever looked at that list of ingredients? They tend toward terrifying — sugars that aren’t sugars — and let’s not even talk about how the box size grew smaller but the price went up.
I’m not going to argue that these are cheap or healthy, but they are good for you, because there is a joy in making them, and knowing they don’t contain preservatives. You can also do pretty much anything you want to them, because oh cooking.
I am pretty sure this recipe originated at Better Homes & Gardens, though it’s in a variety of places on the internet at this point. But I haven’t really seen anyone encouraging wild science experiments with their crackers. So let me do that.
You can use any kind of cheese. You can mix in herbs! Spices! Seeds! You can probably use any kind of flour — I am curious to try this with a rye flour, for example; rye paired with Gouda? I mean. Yum. You won’t find THAT in a box on a shelf.
In any case, I was craving a straight up cheddar cracker, so that’s what is pictured here (and I used unbleached wheat flour). And I only made half a recipe — a whole recipe will probably make about 100 crackers, depending how thin you roll your dough. Here is the full recipe:
8 oz. cheese, finely grated — pick your favorite!
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup flour — pick your favorite!
3-4 tablespoons ice water
One thing I’ve done here is to eliminate the extra salt the original recipe uses, because I’m generally using salted butter. Your cheese is also going to provide salt, so lack of saltiness is not something you’ll run into here, I promise.
How I do my ice water when I make dough: I fill a 2 cup Pyrex cup half way with ice, then fill with water. It sits until I’m ready for it. Easy! Peasy!
Start by mixing your softened butter and cheese. You can use a fork or a silicon spatula is super awesome here. You are going to end up with a lovely butter-cheese paste, which you’ll sprinkle the flour over. I mix that a little more and then start to sprinkle the ice water on. It’s just like making any other dough: you can always add a little more water as you blend, but taking it out is trickier. Use the measurement as a guide, but if you need a little less or a little more, don’t despair. Dough often depends on humidity and weather, you’d be surprised.
Work your dough into a nice little bundle, then wrap in plastic and flatten into a disk (time is a flat circle and so is your dough). Let your dough chill at least an hour. You can also chill it overnight — no worries, it’s going to be fiiiine.
When you take your dough out, heat your oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon sheet.
You’ll roll your dough out on a floured surface — I’d roll them pretty thin, because this is basically pie dough with cheese and it’s going to puff up thanks to the magical chemistry of flour and butter. Cut your dough with a knife or a pastry roller — I use the fluted side of my pastry roller because it’s just so dang fun.
You will probably end up bundling your scraps back up, and rolling them again. But don’t try to get perfect edges, because all those uneven edges brown up and are terribly sexy-crunchy in the end.
Put your cut crackers onto your baking sheet — half a recipe requires a couple panfuls. You can toss them here and there. They will puff, but not spread. You can sprinkle them with salt — I use Kosher. You could also sprinkle with herbs! The other thing here: the recipe says to poke a hole in the center of each cracker with a toothpick or an ice pick. I’m trying to decide WHY and I wonder if it helps the dough vent, just like you would with a pie. Or, it’s just to look like all them commercial crackers.
Bake them for 7-10 minutes, or until browned. You definitely want them to have a little color on them, so they crunch when you bite into them.
Now, every other version of this recipe says “allow to cool” and I just laugh, because warm cheese crackers are the bomb. Put one in your mouth! Obviously don’t burn your tongue out of your head but yeah. Yeeeeah warm cheese crackers.