Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Peppery Cheese Crackers...

For the most part, I usually make sweet items for the Wednesday Treat Day each week - however, every now and then, we like to throw in a more savory treat to shake up the routine. Jeff has been asking for some sort of cracker or cracker bread and after giving him a few options, I picked out a recipe for these Peppery Cheese Crackers.

You will need seek out a specialty ingredient for these crackers - Mimolette cheese.

Orange in color with a medium rind, almost a lookalike for a wedge of cantaloupe, this hard cheese has a bold, nutty flavor to it that has a buttery finish. If this isn't a cheese you can come by, you could try using a harder Edam cheese or perhaps a sharp Parmesan.

Mixing these crackers is a snap, thanks to the use of a food processor! Along with the usual suspects, bread flour and instant polenta is used in the dry ingredients to add texture to the crackers and strength to the dough so you are able to roll it out thin enough. Paprika aids in retaining the fun coloring that the cheese adds, while just a touch of baking soda brings a slight lift. Once you start pouring in the buttermilk, process the dough just until it begins to form a ball inside the food processor bowl. To finish bringing it together, scoop the mixture out into a lightly floured surface and give it a few hearty kneads with your hands to smooth it out. Because you've now gotten the gluten all bothered in the dough, wrap the dough well and set it aside for a few minutes to give the gluten time to sigh in relaxation.

To keep the pieces manageable as you roll them out, we divided the dough into quarters and rolled each out until it was almost paper thin. If you want round crackers, by all means use a fluted round cookie cutter to stamp out the shapes. However, I simply used a pastry wheel to divvy the sheets out into squares, which left me no scrapes to deal with. This makes a fair amount (depending on the size you make them of course), so you may want to do enough to fill up two sheets with crackers first and while they bake off, finish rolling and cutting the remaining quarters.

As soon as the crackers turn golden and crisp, take them out of the oven and immediately slide them onto a wire rack so the air can have access to all sides to cool the crackers and retain that crunchiness. Besides reacting with the baking soda, using buttermilk in these crackers gave them a tenderness even though they had a crispy texture - it also entwined its notable tang into each piece. Now, I had one thought running through my mind as I tested these crackers - was it really worth the $20/pound price I paid for the cheese? And actually, I do think it was - I've never had this type before and its particular gusto was quite pleasing! We'll have to try out this savory treat day more often I think!


  1. Oh, I really like the looks of these crackers Joe, I will see if I can find that cheese!
    I like to make my crackers, both savory and sweet (graham-style), and lately I have been making Alton Brown's "Seedy Crisps" for my savory crackers, I just love those crackers (not sure if you saw this recipe already, but I use flax on mine instead of poppy seeds).
    Thanks for sharing the recipe! I am sure that Jeff's coworkers loved the salty treat!

  2. I love homemade crackers. I find this one a bit expensive but it looks so good. Great treat of the week.

  3. You did a fantastic job cutting them. Mine would not look as perfect, I'm sure. Any chance you can start a mail-order company and send me some??

  4. Ana - Thanks for the recommendation! I'll seek out that recipe.

    Helene - Yeah, but the cheese was a nice treat!

    Martha - It sure is tempting to do something like that!

  5. That's a brilliant idea to use the pastry wheel to cut the crackers with no scraps! I think I'll try out that idea on cookie dough too (or it could work for a quick batch of doggie treats....).

  6. Anon - I'm getting lots of good use out of this tool.