Party Trick: Homemade Cheese Crackers

I’ve been doing quite a lot of entertaining lately—folks come over to our place a few evenings a week to help out tasting this or that. (Tough life, I know.) But we have to feed them—not full dinners, necessarily, but we need to have enough food around to balance out the booze. And I’m getting tired of bread and cheese, crudites and prosciutto.

Enter homemade cheese crackers—they’re like the Cheez-its of your dreams, but full of real cheese flavor (not “cheese flavor”) and spiked with just a hint of smoked paprika. The original recipe was for cheese straws, Southern style, but I prefer them almost like cookies: puffy and chewy inside, tender instead of crumbly. I set out a plateful of an entire batch last night and it was decimated almost immediately. (The imperial stout was a slower slog.)

I’m working on some variations—I think they’d be good with a dab of mustard or hot sauce stirred into the dough, and maybe a sprinkle of fresh thyme and garlic. You could make them all-cheddar, or use a mix of whatever hard cheese-nubs you have around: aged gouda, parmesan, gruyere. I’m even game to try it with something blue—you might not need any milk to moisten the batter in that case.

You can make the dough ahead, wrap it carefully and refrigerate until you’re ready to pop them in the oven—all the better for the busy entertainer.

Cheese Crackers
Adapted from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook, via Chocolate and Zucchini
makes about 45

6 ounces hard cheese, finely grated (I used a combination of aged cheddar and aged gouda)
4 tablespoons butter, diced
100 grams flour (about 3/4 cup)
scant 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
about 2 teaspoons milk or cream, as needed

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the cheese, butter, flour, salt, and smoked paprika. Using a pastry blender, mix the ingredients until they begin to form a dough, adding a small amount of milk or cream if needed to come together as a ball (this will depend on how moist your cheese is.) You could also do this entire process, including grating the cheese, in a food processor.

Compress the dough into a ball and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least one hour or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350°F and line a cookie sheet with parchment or a Silpat. Scoop small rounds from the dough and flatten slightly—they should be about the width of a quarter. Place on baking mat with some space between them, then return dough to the fridge between batches. Bake each batch about 10 minutes, until golden around the edges but still soft. Let crackers cool a few minutes on the pan before removing to a rack.

In baking, cheese, entertaining

Email This Post Email This Post | Bookmark or Share | | Print This Post Print This Post