Tuesday, April 16, 2013

recipe | how I make homemade cheese crackers

These are delicious. Seriously, they are. Make them. Eat them. Resistance is futile.

cheese crackers, mild vs. spicy - yum.. spicy YUM

Delectable (customizable!) Homemade Cheese Crackers

Ingredients:
   
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup finely grated sharp cheddar* cheese, packed
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder
2 teaspoons seasoning of choice*
4 tablespoons cold butter, sliced 
2-3 tablespoons cold water

* These crackers are great because you can really customize them to your tastes so easily! You can switch up the cheese - cheddar, mozzarella, parmesan, or a mixture! For seasoning I like red pepper, garlic powder, cajun seasoning, pepper, paprika.  

Every time I made cheesey crackers I make them a little different. In the example photo above, the lighter crackers had a cheese combo of parmesan, Sharp Cheddar, and a Mexican blend of cheese and 2 teaspoons of garlic powder (along with the stated mustard and salt).  The darker crackers were all Sharp Cheddar and 2 teaspoons of cajun spice (along with the stated mustard and salt). 

Directions:

1. Combine the flour, cheese, seasoning, salt, and mustard in a bowl.
-- or dump these in a food processor and pulse it once or twice. :)

2. Add the butter and work it in with two forks or your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
-- in a food processor, pulse a few times until the butter is combined.

3. Add the cold water, a tablespoon at a time, and continue working with your hands until the contents come together to form a smooth dough.
-- in a food processor, pulse a few times after each tablespoon of water is added. Continue to pulse until the dough flops into a big ball (technical term). :)  

4. Press the dough into a flat round, cover with plastic wrap or put in large zip-top bag, and put in the refrigerator until well chilled (minimum of 30 minutes - maximum 24 hours).

5. Preheat oven to 350.

6. Unwrap the dough, put on a  lightly floured surface, sprinkle the dough lightly with flour. Use a lightly floured rolling pin to roll the dough to 1/8 inch.
-- or, skip all that flour mess and use your handy dandy pasta roller on its thickest setting to roll out the dough. :)

7. Cut the dough in whatever shape you like using small cookie cutters, or use a pizza or ravioli cutter. Gather up the leftover dough scraps, form them into a ball with damp hands, roll out as instructed in step 7, and cut into more shapes. Repeat until all the dough has been used up!

8. place shapes on cookie sheet and bake for approximately 15 minutes. Check after 12 minutes and remove when edges turn golden. 

9. Remove from baking trays and cool on wire racks.

10. Try not to gobble them all up at once. :)

Store crackers in an airtight container. I recommend glass jars (I use a couple wide mouth canning jars), or stainless steel canisters. Sometimes plastic containers don't hold in the crunch as well.  The crackers should last at least two weeks. Probably longer, but we eat them up pretty quick.
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Okay, that was the short version. Here's the wordier version, with visuals. :)  
And some bonus notes about consistency and mustard. :)

Here are pictures of the process I use to make these crackers. Now, I USED to do them all by hand. It's definitely doable, but it does take a lot longer and it gives your hands quite a work-out! Since I have gotten a large food processor, cracker making is so easy. So, so easy. And fast. The longest part is having to wait for the dough to chill. But the prep and all that? Effortless!

This is what the first step looks like, combining the flour, cheese, seasonings and giving it a whirl around with two presses of the pulse button:
Step 3: pulse to combine butter

Add the butter pieces and let it whirl around a couple more times. Pulse. Pulse. Pulse.
Step 2: add butter

This is what it looks like with the butter mixed in. It looks a lot like it did in the first step:
Step 1: combine dry flour, cheese, seasoning

The next step is adding the cold water. This is what my mixture looked like after 2 tablespoons of water. It's still very loose, but it suddenly looks all cheesy. At this point SMELL IT! How does it smell? Is it delicious? If so, then continue on.... but if the aroma is not making you drool yet, then it's a good time to add some more seasoning. A few dashes of garlic, pepper, curry, cumin, whatever tickles your fancy - now's your opportunity to tinker with the taste:
Step 4: add water

This is what my mixture looked like after I added one more tablespoon of cold water and a couple more pulses. It's starting to come together, but has not reached proper dough ball status...but it's close:
Step 5: still needs more water

I dribbled in a half tablespoon of water more, pulse, pulse, - BOOM. We have a dough ball. It's like magic, only yummy.
Step 6: Boom. Dough ball is formed.

NOTE: The amount of water it requres for your dough to come together can vary based on several factors, including what sort of cheese you are using (some cheeses are very moist, some are very dry). This batch of crackers I used a lot of parmesan, which is a very dry cheese. Other cheeses would likely take less water (like mozzarella, it's a much moister, gooier cheese). Also, the more dry seasoning you add can affect how much water you need.

Another note: if you do not have dry mustard, you CAN substitute regular bottle mustard, but use a bit more (like a hefty squirt or two), and if you are using wet mustard you will probably be able to get away with using less water. It's all about the dough ball. When your dough globs together, you're ready for the next step.

Flatten to a disk, cover and chill - I like to use a zip top bag for this because nothing else allows you to get all the air out and seal up quite as well:
Step 7: seal and chill

I am completely incompetent with a rolling pin. Seriously, me + rolling pin = disaster level worthy of SNL or Informercial mockery. The rolling-the-dough-out step was the worst one for me, by far, back when I used to do this all by hand. But now I'm all fancy pants with my handy pasta roller. I just crank the dough through like a queen.
Step 8: roll out dough

So that's where I stopped taking pictures. The next step is the fun one - cutting the dough into shapes. I made mostly puzzle pieces because it's Autism Awareness Month. :)  But a few animals worked their way in too, along with some hearts, stars, trucks, boats....  As your remaining dough dwindles and dwindles, you can use smaller cutters to make the most of every last scrap. 

ENJOY!  :)

Homemade cheese crackers - spicy cheddar puzzle pieces
  
Supplies used to make these crackers:


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5 comments:

Wendy said... [Reply to comment]

Oh, these look so good. I've been wanting to make home made cheese crackers for months and this post may be what gets me off my bum to do it.

Michelle said... [Reply to comment]

pretty much the coolest crackers ever! I'm buying those puzzle piece cutters asap.

Pint Sized Baker said... [Reply to comment]

those crackers sound yummy! Pinned this! Thanks for sharing these on Two Cup Tuesday at Pint Sized Baker I hope to see ya again on Monday night!

Unknown said... [Reply to comment]

You don't use the dough blade? When I've tried to make crackers with my chopping blade, the dough never formed. I'll have to give this a go!

Melissa said... [Reply to comment]

#3 - I thought about using the dough blade, but it's much shorter than the real blade, with only half the reach. The real blade worked great the first time, so that's what I keep using. :)

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