Making your own crackers gives you a chance to show off a little, and if you serve these as part of your snack tray for watching the Super Bowl on Sunday, Feb. 13, you’ll wow yourself and your pals.
Homemade cheese crisps, wafers, straws and crackers abound because butter, cheese and flour stick together like crazy when baked. They are easy to make and taste so good. Plus, if you like rich and cheesy, you don’t have to do much to be happy with the crackers as described below in the recipe. And if you like spicy, you can zip these crisps up to daredevil levels of heat.
Ruth Thurston in Machias sent this recipe along back when we were looking for homemade cracker recipes. Ruth and I have very similar preferences for flavor so I haven’t tinkered much with the spicing for these crisps, though I substituted chipotle powder — my favorite of all the peppers — for cayenne, and I added a little more dried mustard. And because I like salt, I sprinkled a little coarse salt over the top of them, too.
The recipe also calls for Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce. There are so many hot sauces out there, some Maine made (yay!), that you can substitute your favorite, and even use soy sauce or tamari. I dare say a couple drops of liquid smoke might be a good addition if you have some.
Messing with the spices doesn’t alter the structure of the crackers so you can use pretty much whatever you like and have on hand. Chili powder, taco seasoning, garlic or onion powder, or barbecue spice mix — whatever goes with cheese — all work.
There is nothing wrong with just plain old salt and pepper, either; if you have coarsely ground black pepper and flakey sea salt, try those.
Years ago, a recipe showed up in the late, great Gourmet magazine for Rice Krispies blended into a flour-cheese-butter mix very like the base for this recipe. When baked the cereal turned into magical little nuggets of yumminess. They must have absorbed some of the fat in the cheese which bonded with the sugar in the rice.
This recipe calls for Rice Chex coarsely crumbled to roll into the top of the crisps. This points to an active little cereal company test kitchen: Those folks are always looking for ways to sell more cereal to you than you can pour into your family’s breakfast bowls. I used the Rice Chex and also tried sesame and poppy seeds. Why not look around your kitchen for some similar grain or seeds to use instead of cereal?
A couple procedural hints: When working the butter and cheese into the flour and spice mixture, you can use a spoon or even a mixer, but nature provides us with 10 fingers that get the job done in about 30 seconds. Before rolling out the dough, I divided it into four parts and formed it into four flattened disks, which chill quickly.
If you use crumbled Chex, figure on baking them for 12 minutes. If you sprinkle your crisps with only seeds or salt and pepper, shorten the baking time to closer to 8 minutes.
Now why, you might ask, go to the trouble of making your own cheesy crackers when crackers are so easy to find in stores and pretty cheap? Well, read the list of ingredients on the package. These cheese crisps don’t have anything in them that will make it possible to keep them fresh for months which you don’t even need to worry about because they are so awesomely delicious you’ll eat them all up before the end of the game.
Or maybe even before the game.
Makes dozens of crisps, depending on the size you cut them.
2 cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne or chili powder
½ teaspoon dry mustard
1 cup softened butter
8 ounces grated sharp or extra-sharp cheddar cheese (not bagged)
½ cup water
Dash each of Worcestershire and Tabasco sauces
2 cups coarsely crumbled Rice Chex, or seeds of your choice such as sesame or poppy
Whisk together flour, salt and spices in a large bowl.
Work the softened butter into the flour mixture, then add the grated cheese and mix that in thoroughly.
Add the water and Worcestershire and Tabasco, toss all together until the water is taken up.
Divide the dough into four parts and make flat disks, which you can wrap in waxed paper to chill until they are firm but malleable.
Heat the oven to 425 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Roll the dough until it is about an eighth of an inch thick, sprinkle with the crumbled Rice Chex or your choice of toppings. Roll the topping lightly into the surface of the dough.
Cut into squares, rectangles, diamonds — your choice of shapes and sizes — and spread them out on the parchment paper-covered baking sheets.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes if you use the Rice Chex or closer to 8 minutes if you choose seeds, or just salt and pepper. Aim for a golden color.