One of the great things about the holidays is family, friends and neighbors come to visit. Not all are coming to dinner, maybe just an afternoon visit. These Cheddar Garlic Crackers are such a great idea for noshing, especially since you can make them ahead of time and just whip them out of the fridge when your guests appear. Voila!
The other thing about these Crackers is they are amazing with beer. Some appetizers just beg to be served with wine or a cocktail, but there is something about beer in the afternoon with cheese. You know how the cheese gets brown around the edges on a Mac&Cheese casserole? That is the flavor we’re talking about here. I had some artisanal wheat beer with them and it was the perfect pairing.
The dough is made with Cheddar, flour, butter, salt and water. Half of it is mixed with minced garlic, parsley and pecans. This is wonderful dough to work with, the texture of playdoh and totally not sticky.
The plain dough and the parsley dough are rolled out into sheets, layered one on top another, and rolled up into a jelly-roll cylinder.
The roll is cut into ¼-inch slices. The dough is beautifully pliable and can be shaped into perfect round circles.
What is it about pinwheel shapes that are so intriguing to the eye? I don’t know the answer to that, but I do know that your guests are going to eat these crackers all gone in one big hurry. Maybe you should bake a double batch.
Cheddar Garlic Crackers with Parsley & Pecans
Makes about 70 crackers
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon kosher salt
8 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into bits
3-4 tablespoons ice water
1 garlic clove
1 cup loosely packed fresh curly parsley leaves
¼ cup pecan or walnut pieces
1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Insert into same sized baking sheet, for double-pan.
2. In a food processor blend flour, salt, Cheddar and butter until mixture resembles meal.
3. With motor running, add 3 tablespoons of ice water and blend mixture, adding more water if necessary, until it just forms a dough. Do not overblend. Transfer dough to a sheet of plastic wrap and form into a log about 8 inches long. Divide log in half, wrapping half in plastic and refrigerate.
4. With motor running, drop garlic clove into processor and mince. Turn off motor, add parsley and nuts and whiz until they are minced.
5. Add second half of dough to processor and blend mixture, scraping down sides, until parsley mixture is distributed evenly throughout dough.
6. Pat the parsley dough into a 7- x 5-inch rectangle on large sheet of parchment paper. Cover with plastic wrap and roll into a 12- x 7-inch rectangle. Turn over, remove parchment and reposition so dough is flat, not rippled. Replace parchment and roll flat. Slide onto a baking sheet and chill for 10 minutes, or until firm but flexible.
7. Repeat rolling and chilling procedure with reserved half of plain cheese dough.
8. Remove plastic wrap from plain cheese dough. Remove parchment paper from parsley dough. Place parsley dough on top of cheese dough, making the sides match as much as possible. Press layers together lightly with rolling pin.
9. Remove the plastic wrap from the parsley dough. With small sharp knife, trim 2 short sides and long side facing you, so they are straight and square.
10. Using bottom sheet of parchment paper as a guide, beginning on a long side, roll doughs tightly together jelly-roll fashion. Wrap well in plastic wrap and chill at least 1 hour or overnight. May be made 3 days in advance and kept chilled.
11. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Unwrap roll and cut crosswise into ¼-inch slices. Turn roll a quarter turn after each slice to maintain round shape. Form each slice into as circular a shape as possible.
12. Bake on parchment-lined double-panned baking sheet for 10 to 12 minutes, or until they are golden. I baked 24 crackers per sheet. Transfer to racks to cool.
Note: May be held at room temperature for 1 day in air-tight container. May be held for 2 days chilled.