Tuesday, November 25, 2014

HOMEMADE CHEEZ-IT CRACKERS

OK, it's confession time, I love Cheez-It crackers. I don't stock them in the pantry (for obvious reasons), so when the urge ambushed me the other day, I was very happy to find this easy recipe.

These crackers really do taste a lot like Cheez-It crackers, except fresher and more flavorful. They are quick to make and take require ingredients I always have in my kitchen (a win-win for us since we live 10 miles out of town).

 
 
 
CHEEZ-IT CRACKERS
 
8 ounces extra SHARP cheddar cheese shredded (see note below)
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 tablespoons UNSALTED butter (room temperature)
1 teaspoon salt (divided)
4 to 6 tablespoons ice water  (see note below)
 
Put the shredded cheese and room temperature butter in your food processor and give it a few pulses to blend.
 
Mix 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne into the flour, then sprinkle it over the cheese-butter mixture and pulse a few times until the mixture looks a little clumpy but well mixed.
 
Next, with the food processor running, add 4 tablespoons of the ice water. Run the food processor until the dough forms a ball, then stop. See tip below on the amount of water to use
 
 
Divide the dough in half and cover and chill for 30 minutes.  Roll the dough very thin (as thin as you can get it), like a pie crust (1/8")or thinner (see note below) and cut into 1" squares.
 
 
 
Sprinkle squares remaining salt and poke a hole in the center of the square. Place squares on ungreased cookie sheet (they can be pretty close together but not touching).
 
Bake in preheated 400° for 10 to 12 minutes or till golden (see note below). Remove crackers from baking sheet and cool them on a bakers rack (so air can get to both sides of the cracker). Cool to room temperature before eating them (they will get crisper as they cool down).
 
TIPS:
This recipe really needs extra sharp cheddar cheese and make sure that you grate it yourself.  Commercially grated cheeses have a starch coating on them so the shreds don't clump together. This starch coating really effects how cheese melts (and tastes)
 
The recipe didn't say what kind of salt to use, but I used a light sprinkling of kosher salt because it is large and flakey, but that's just my personal preference. On one batch, I put salt on both sides of the cracker squares and it made them too salty  (well, the dog didn't think so, but we did).
 
 This recipe calls for 4 to 6 tablespoons of ice water. When I made these, it took the full 6 tablespoons, but then the amount of water you use depends on the humidity of your flour, etc. etc. etc.  Just start with 4 tablespoons and then if the dough doesn't come together nicely in a ball, add a little more.
 
This dough is extremely easy to roll out and doesn't crack or break apart. Just make sure you roll it VERY thin. No matter how thin you roll them, they will still puff up a little while baking, so keep that in mind. Just remember, the thinner you roll them, the crispier the cracker will be.
 
And finally, the recipe says to bake them 10 to 12 minutes. I have the best luck cooking them for 10 minutes then switching to the broiler for the last 30 seconds. It gives them a wonderful golden crispy top.
 
If you have leftovers, store them in an airtight container.
 
ENJOY !!
 



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