One very compelling reason I loved visiting my friend Simone were the nibbles her mum always had on display in their living-room. No, I’m not referring to homemade treats or freshly baked cookies, I’m talking about those huge boxes called “Party Mix”, which contained assorted pretzels and cheese crackers, that were so hip during the 80s.
I’m pretty darn sure it wasn’t the quality of those nibbles that draw me in, more likely the fact that we rarely had something similar at home. My favorites always were those tiny, poppy seed-speckled crackers. Today, more than 20 years later, I still have a weak spot for tiny crackers, but much prefer the homemade alternative.
If you’re a first-timer and have never made crackers at home, this is an easy, no-fuss recipe to start with. I have tried different cheeses (like Asiago or Mimolette), but prefer a mild Cheddar for this recipe. And though my favorite flavor combination is to pair it with poppy seeds, a close runner-up is a slightly hot cracker with a smoky note, which is spiced with ground chipotle chiles. Feel free to try different spice or herb additions to build your very own “Party Mix”!
This recipe is one of many that didn’t make it into my new book. Not because it isn’t worthy, make no mistake, but we already had settled on another cracker recipe for chapter three. In hindsight, nibbling on these right now makes me regret that decision, we should have squeezed it in – somewhere, somehow!
These crackers can be made by hand (preferably with a pastry cutter) or with a food processor – I prefer the latter.
Grate the cheese. Add flour, salt and ground chipotle OR poppy seeds into the bowl of your food processor and pulse a couple of times.
Cut the cold butter into small cubes and add them to the dry ingredients using the pulse function four or five times until you can spot no butter pieces that are larger than small peas. Add the grated cheese and pulse again until well incorporated. Lastly add 2 to 3 tablespoons of water and pulse again. The dough will start to come together in large lumps. Dump onto the worktop and quickly knead together into a ball, then form into a disc and wrap into foil or cling film. Chill for 30 to 60 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (355°F). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Slightly flour the worktop and the dough, then roll out the dough with a rolling pin, about the same thickness as cut-out cookies. Cut out shapes in small, nibbling size using cookie cutters or use a pie cutter to cut the cracker dough into small rectangles and transfer to the baking sheet.
Bake on middle level for 11 to 14 minutes or until the crackers have gained a nice golden brown color (don’t let them get too brown or they will develop an unpleasant burnt taste). Take crackers out of the oven and let slide onto a wire rack to cool off completely. Store in an airtight container for a couple of days, yet they are best eaten on the day baked.
The Mighty Cheese Cracker
Recipe source: own creation
Active time: ~20 min. (plus chilling 30-60 min., baking 11-14 min.)
Ingredients (yields 2 baking trays):
125 g bread flour (type 550) plus more for handling
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
choose: 1/4-1/2 tsp ground chipotle chiles OR 2 tbsp poppy seeds
50 g cold butter
150 g mild Cheddar cheese
2-3 tbsp cold water