Thursday, August 5, 2010

Alphabet Cheesy Crackers:



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
1/8 teaspoon of chili pepper. 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 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.

Don't skip the chili powder!!  It gives it a great flavor
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.  Each letter is about an inch tall.  Try some using holiday shapes too! 
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 for eleven minutes and then allow to cool completely on the pan before removing.

Confession time – Sometimes I only do one pan worth of alphabet crackers.  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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