If you're still on the hunt for an easy appetizer or snack idea for your holiday gatherings, these cheez-it like crackers from Dorie Greenspan are the answer. I volunteered to bring homemade crackers to Shane's company party and wound up choosing this recipe from about 3 or 4 I'd considered and let me just say, I'm lucky there were any left to share at the party. So, so good. I'll admit, I've never been a fan of cheez-its. My brother loved them when we were growing up so there were always boxes around the house, but they held no appeal to me whatsoever. The "ish" is the key part of this recipe's title; though the scent of these crackers reminded me of cheez-its, their flavor was leaps and bounds better than anything that ever came from a box. They're almost like a savory shortbread cookie - so buttery and light. I used cheddar this go-round, but my all time favorite cheese is Gruyere so that's next on the agenda.
One of the best things about these crackers is the ease of preparation. The dough comes together in about 5 minutes in the food processor - seriously. The instructions below have you roll out the dough and use a cookie cutter to cut the crackers, but if you want to make things even easier on yourself, you can shape the dough into logs and turn these into a slice and bake snack (you will need to chill the logs for at least 3 hours, which is longer than the chill period if you make cut-outs, so plan ahead).
I finally finished my Christmas shopping yesterday, but there's still a whole lot of wrapping to do. I'm thinking another batch of these crackers is bound to make that task a whole lot more enjoyable :)
from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces
1/4 pound grated cheese (cheddar, Gruyere, and Emmenthal are all good choice)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Add the butter, cheese, salt, and both peppers to the bowl of your food processor. Pulse until the butter is broken into smaller pieces and the mixture forms small curds. Add the flour to the food processor and pulse until curds form again (this might take a bit - my dough got very dry and crumbly first but then came together into curds).
Turn the dough onto your work surface and knead briefly to bring it together. Divide in half, shape each half into a disk, and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour (or up to 3 days).
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
Remove one disk from the fridge and roll it to a scant 1/4-inch thickness between sheets of parchment. Using a small cookie cutter (about 1-1 1/4-inches) cut rounds from the dough. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet - you don't need to leave much space in between, these don't spread. (Save the scraps of dough, you can combine them with the scraps from the second disk to roll and cut more crackers.)
Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until the crackers are firm and golden. Use a spatula to transfer the crackers to a wire rack to cool.
Repeat with the second disk, and then the scraps. The crackers are good warm or at room temperature. Store in an airtight container (they'll be good for at least 4 days).