Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Cheesy Alphabet Crackers

When Rachel over at Quirky Momma asked me to do a guest post on how to make cheesy crackers, I said sure! I'm kind of excited because I've never been asked to do a guest post before, and I'm kind of a dork like that. You know. You should definitely check out her blog to get some fun ideas of things to do with your kids. That's where I found the idea for the baby buckle toy.

If you read back in my archives for even a little bit, you will quickly learn that I'm trying to cut out all the processed junk in my family's lives. This doesn't mean that I'm cutting out all junk Per Se, it just means that if I want to have those types of snacks in the house, I'm going to have to make them from scratch. This means that I won't end up having to worry about high fructose corn syrup or preservatives in our food, which is a very good thing.

I happen to have a boy and a husband who both love to have snacky-chow around the house. I didn't want to have them constantly eating sweets, which are my forte, so it was time to branch out into salty snacks. Enter the Cheesy Cracker. They're the perfect size for little fingers to grab by the handful and they're so much better than anything I ever bought at the grocery store.

To make them you will need:

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (188 grams)
2 cups extra sharp cheddar, grated (about six ounces)
1/4 cup grated parmigiano reggiano
a stick of butter at room temperature

and just an eighth of a teaspoon of this. It doesn't make them spicy at all, it just adds depth of flavor.

Place all of your ingredients into a large bowl, along with a few grinds of black pepper. It's best to grate the cheese yourself because the pre-grated stuff they sell at the grocery store is coated in cornstarch and that will throw off the consistency of your final product. I also like to grate my own parmesan because it's way better quality and tastes better than the pre-grated kind. Just for goodness sakes, don't ever use the powdered stuff in the green can. Gag.

I used a pastry blender to start to bring everything together.

Once it started to clean the sides of the bowl, I switched to my hand and made sure it was mixed well.

Separate into two halves, wrap in plastic wrap, and place in the fridge for 30 minutes. If you want to be like me, you can forget about it completely (whoops!) and leave it overnight too, it's okay. Just let them sit on the counter for about half an hour before you attempt to roll them.

These are my alphabet cookie cutters. I found mine at HomeGoods, but you can get these on Amazon as well. Each letter is about an inch tall.

Roll out your cracker dough to somewhere between 1/4 and 1/8 inch thick.

These cutters are really tiny, so there is a bit of a learning curve to them. If you dip them in flour before each cut, it helps. Also, if a cracker gets stuck inside the cutter, just hold it about 1/4 inch above your cookie sheet and gently poke it loose with a toothpick.

You can use a thin, flexible metal spatula to lift the ones that stay put from your rolling surface.

Place your crackers either on a parchment lined baking sheet or one lined with a Silpat. Be sure to leave a little bit of room between them because they will puff slightly while baking. Bake at 325 degrees F for eleven minutes and then allow to cool completely on the pan before removing.

These are always a big hit with my 21 month old. He couldn't wait to get his hands on them!

He likes to hold them up and tell me what the letter is before eating it. Smartypants.

If that's not a testimonial, I don't know what is.

Okay, confession time - I usually only have enough patience to do one pan worth of alphabet crackers before I find myself wanting to say bad words. For the remaining dough, I simply take a pizza cutter (or in this case, a fondant cutter/embosser) and cut the dough into plain squares before baking. They taste just as good and take a fraction of the time that the letters do.

I store them in these Burken jars from Ikea and it keeps them fresh for quite a while!

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Blogger Susan... said...

oh bakery momma goodness! I am putting the girl on these tomorrow! Thanks for the recipe AND the tips! I am pretty sure we'll stick with the roll and slice method. However I might need to make a few flowers...just for fun!


8:34 PM  
Blogger Valerie said...

What a great idea! I, too, am trying to wean my family off of processed foods, but the problem is I have no idea how to cook or bake (unless its a mix in a box...wait that's still processed right?) I'm totally trying these tomorrow! Thanks for the great recipe and easy to follow tips and tricks.

9:11 PM  
Blogger Quirky Momma said...

So yummy and creative! They look like a lot of fun!

7:01 AM  
Blogger justem said...

Totally cool!!! :)

7:48 AM  
Blogger Katy said...

Oh, wow. Super impressed, but I definitely will be going the pizza cutter route. Would not have the patience for those incredibly cute letters.

8:20 AM  
Blogger cortney mae said...

Oh my goodness! those are so flippin cute!! I don't have kids yet but I want to make them for me and the hubs!

8:42 AM  
Blogger Aiming4Simple said...

I found your recipe via Quirky Momma and really hope to try these. My kids are snackaholics, and they could be put to work helping me make these. I think we'll try making letter imprints, like the boxed Scrabble crackers I saw...

11:25 PM  
Blogger Betsy Escandon said...

Those are amazing and darling. My 3-year-old would LOVE those letter cookie cutters and helping. But, yes, that would take too much patience. Kudos to you for making your own cheesy munchies. Homemade is always best in my book.

6:01 PM  
Blogger Rosemary said...

Oh sister. Is it just me or does homemade=healthy at your house? Like oh, there's a pound of butter and delicious fatty cheese in this recipe but for crying out loud, they were created by my own two hands so the whole family should just eat and eat and eat them to their hearts content. I don't think I can wait for C is for Cracker (and cheese!) day.

12:23 PM  
Blogger Alovelydai said...

Thanks for this. I too have stopped eating & buying processed foods & have an unhealthy addiction to cheese crackers. You just made my day!

10:32 AM  

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