Cheez-Its are one of my favorite snacks but they don't have anything on these sophisticated little nibbles from Dorie Greenspan.
Anyone can make these Cheez-It-Ish Crackers. Anyone. Well, anyone with a food processor. And everyone will be impressed. These are the perfect, absolutely the perfect, appetizer to serve at a party. A glass of wine in one hand and the other hand discreetly going back for another cracker, and another one, and, well you get the idea. Once you eat one, you can't stop.
This is just a savory shortbread cookie. Creamy and buttery, you get to decide what other flavors you want to add with cheeses, herbs, and/or seasonings. I like these with a sharp cheddar and a Paul Bunyon sized pinch of cayenne.
I make a similar recipe from Ina Garten for Parmesan Thyme Crackers where she uses a stand mixer to blend the butter and flour, but I prefer Dorie's method of using the food processor. The dough from the food processor is so much smoother and moist. The ones from the mixer are always a bit dry and crumbly. Delicious, but a bit more frustrating to work with.
Please try these. As I said before, these are so simple and your guests will be lavishing you with compliments as they brush tiny orange crumbs from their lips.
Around My French Table, Dorie Greenspan
1 stick unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup cheese shredded (I used a sharp cheddar, but any hard cheese will work here)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper (Dorie calls for white, but I used black)
1 pinch cayenne pepper (I used a bit more)
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Place the butter, cheese, salt, pepper, and cayenne in a food processor and pulse until the butter is broken up into uneven bits and the mixture forms small curds. Add the flour and pulse until the dough forms moist curds again - these will be larger. There are times when you pulse and never get curds. If this happens, just process for a minute so that everything is as moist as possible.
Please the dough onto a work surface and knead gently until it comes together. Divide the dough in half, pat each half into a disk, and wrap the disks in plastic wrap. Chill for at least an hour and up to three days. Alternately, you can roll into logs (I like smaller crackers and roll into logs that are about an inch to an inch and a half in diameter), wrap and refrigerate.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. (I needed 2 baking sheets.)
If cutting the crackers out, working with one disk at a time, roll out the dough between the sheets of plastic wrap to barely 1/4 inch thick. Using a small cookie cutter, cut the dough into crackers. Gather the scraps together so you can combine them with the scraps from the second disk, chill and roll out again. Place the cut out dough on a baking sheet, leaving an inch between each piece. If using logs, cut into 1/4 inch rounds and place on a baking sheet.
Bake for 14 to 17 minutes or until the crackers are lightly golden and firm to the touch. Transfer to a rack and cool. Serve them while warm, or at room temperature.
These will keep for up to four days in an airtight container.
Yield: about 50 small crackers