Sunday, April 29, 2012
After seeing these on Dara’s blog, Gen Y Foodie, I was smitten. We needed to make them. But instead of being all responsible and healthy with the olive oil and flax seeds, I went with good old butter. We love butter. We love Julia Child’s "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" for that reason. So back to the cheez-its – It is exciting for some reason to make a homemade version of packaged food item. Especially in this case, the buttery, cheesy crackers emerging fresh from the oven makes for such a lovely snack. Now Seth likes to destroy this delicate harmony of the home-baked cheddar cracker by actually dipping them in this ridiculous store bought cheese dip. If you notice, it isn’t even packaged in a jar. It is a tin can that you open like a can of cat food. Super classy. He swears by it. He claims that because the cheez-its taste so strongly like cheese, it helps to dip them into something that doesn’t taste anything like cheese… like pre-packaged cheese dip… While this is the dip he grew up with, and sometimes you just can’t fight nostalgia, I think we’d both agree that these crackers taste great with almost any dip.
1 cup whole wheat flour
8 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling on top
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon powdered mustard
¼ teaspoon onion powder
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into tiny pieces
6 – 8 tablespoons ice water
In a small bowl, mix together ½ teaspoon kosher salt, pepper, paprika, powdered mustard, and onion powder. In a medium bowl, mix together flour, cheddar, and the seasoning mix. Add the pieces of butter and using your fingers work the butter with the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumble. Add 6 tablespoons ice water, adding more if needed for the dough to come together. You might want to use your hands to work the dough into a large ball. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Heat oven to 350. I like to roll the dough out on a Silpat or parchment paper cut to fit a baking sheet to get the right size thickness (about 1/8 inch), and then transfer the Silpat or parchment to a baking sheet. If you aren’t using these, the dough should be rolled out to roughly fit a baking sheet. Use a pizza cutter or fluted pastry wheel (gives that nice deckled edge) to cut the dough into squares. It helps to use a ruler to evenly space out the cuts. Use a chopstick to make the classic hole in the center that store-bought cheez-its have. Sprinkle more kosher salt on top then bake for about 20 minutes. You want the crackers to be crisp, but not burnt; you may wish to remove the outer couple rows, then put the pan back in and finish the inner rows. Once they are done, use the same pizza cutter or fluted pastry wheel (lined up with your previous cuts) to separate the crackers fully.