For Parties or Just Because
Christmas is past but the holiday season roars on with New Years Eve next week. The eating and drinking continue, Fellow FoodBeest.
We had two parties to go to on Saturday. Friends from different spheres of our lives. One: Ann and James, a couple we have known for 30 years and a party they have hosted every year for 20. The other: a holiday reunion of a Landmark program I led a year ago.
I wanted to bring something to put on both party munchie tables, but I didn’t want to work too hard. Nothing too time consuming or expensive this time. No fancy-schmacy deviled eggs or oysters or anything too excessive or indulgent. The only absolute is that it has to taste great. People have to want to eat it.
These cheddar cheese pepper crackers fit the bill. They are good enough and easy enough and fast enough to make and even inexpensive enough you don’t have to save them for holidays or parties.
What the heck, you may as well give them a try. The only downside to them – as my friend Danielle has made me acutely aware – is that they are not gluten-free.
What You Need to Make Cheddar Cheese Pepper Crackers
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese
½ t salt
½ t coarsely ground pepper
3+ T cold water
How to Make Cheddar Cheese Pepper Crackers
Cut up the cheese into 1-inch chunks. In a food processor, pulse it until it is coarsely grated.
Add everything except the water and pulse again until it looks like course crumbs.
While pulsing, add in water 1 tablespoon at a time. You will know how much water is right when it comes together into a nice ball of dough.
Remove from food processor, wrap the ball of dough in plastic wrap and put in refrigerator for at least 20 minutes or just do it the day before you are planning to bake it. You can even freeze it at this point and pull it out when you need it.
When you are ready to bake the crackers, preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Spread a big sheet of plastic wrap on the counter. You might even need two sheets that overlap slightly. Put the cold dough on top of the plastic wrap and then top it with one or two more large sheets of plastic wrap. Because you are going to roll out the dough very, very thin, you will need the plastic wrap so you can easily remove the individual crackers to put them on the baking sheet. A sprinkling of flour will also work, but, trust me, with the dough rolled out this thin, the plastic wrap is much easier.
Rolling out the dough this thin is the hardest part of this whole operation. The dough has been refrigerated so it’s going to take some upper body strength. You want it quite thin. Thinner than ¼-inch. Paper thin, actually. These puppies will rise and you want them crispy rather than chewy.
When you get it thin enough, remove the top sheet of plastic wrap and cut the dough into squares. You can use a knife or a pizza cutter. I had a very small round cookie-like cutter so I used that. The rim of a small juice glass might work also. Use the tines of a fork or the top of a corkscrew to poke a hole in the center of each one.
Place crackers on a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper. They will rise, but not expand, so you don’t have to worry about putting them close together.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until slightly browned and crispy.
Makes 3 dozen. Double if you need enough for two parties.