Last year I started making homemade cheese crackers and they instantly became my favorite savory treat to serve during the festive fall and winter months.
A long-time fan of Cheez-It crackers, I was delighted to be making a healthier version with real cheddar cheese and whole wheat flour. For most of 2013, though, I’ve been baking gluten-free so these homemade cheese crackers have not appeared and I’ve missed them. I enjoy the tastes, textures and nutrition in other flours such as coconut, almond and buckwheat and find I feel much better eating them. So, with the holiday season approaching quickly, it’s time to recreate these cheesy nibbles!
I pulled out my hand grater and a started grating cheddar cheese. The cheese went into the food processor along with some almond flour, turmeric, a bit of cayenne pepper, butter, salt and an egg. After pulsing a few times, I dumped the rough dough out and wrapped it up to chill. At this point, you can keep the dough in the fridge for a couple of days until you’re ready to bake.
After rolling out the dough, I started cutting different shapes. This week, we are celebrating both Thanksgiving and Hanukkah (they won’t overlap again for 79,000 years!) so in honor of this I cut out turkeys and dreidels. You can also cut the dough into the more “traditional” Cheez- It square shape. But no matter what shape you choose, be sure to sprinkle the tops with a healthy pinch of flaky sea salt before baking. That salty punch is just delicious and one of the reasons I can’t stop eating these once I start.
I’ve also rolled, cut and frozen the dough ahead of time, making it easy to pull out and pop into the oven for a quick appetizer. This is especially helpful when prepping ahead for Thanksgiving. Early in the morning, before the turkey goes in the oven, just bake the frozen dough (add a minute or two to the baking time) and you’ll have a great snack to hold hungry guests over until the big feast is ready.
Happy Hanukkah and Happy Thanksgiving!
Cheese Crackers with Almond Flour
Quantity depends upon what size cookie cutter you use or size of squares you cut
2 cups freshly grated cheddar cheese (I used sharp cheddar)
2 cups finely ground, blanched almond flour
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cayenne or Aleppo pepper (optional)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into smaller bits
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Flaky sea salt for sprinkling
In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the cheese, almond flour, egg, turmeric, cayenne, butter and kosher salt together until a rough dough forms. Remove the dough, shape into a ball and wrap in plastic. Chill the dough for at least an hour and up to 2 days.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Divide the dough into quarters. Place one quarter of the dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper and roll out into 1/2 inch thickness. Cut into squares or use your favorite cookie cutters. Place the cut outs on the prepared pan and sprinkle a pinch of flaky sea salt on top of each. Bake until crispy and just beginning to brown, about 12-15 minutes. Remove and let cool. Repeat with the remaining dough. You can also roll and cut the dough, then freeze on a baking sheet. When baking, add a minute or 2 to the baking time.
The crackers are lovely on the day they’re baked or keep well overnight at room temperature in a well-sealed container.