There’s a time for big projects in the kitchen. For the things that take a certain amount of attention, the things that have multiple steps, the things that are time sensitive. Those things have a great payoff; you are proud, and the more time sweat and cuss you put into them, the better they taste. They are your babies. Delicious babies.
But then, there’s a time for simple fun. For the quick and easy and damn that’s good. The things that let you listen to Radiolab while you massacre produce with your hands, and that don’t mind if your measurements are a little over, or a little under. This is one of those. Yep. These are them! Just what you need when you want to do without the serious effort.
I don’t know a single person (that I truly respect) who isn’t madly in love with the coupling of cheddar and jalapeno. Together they’re like a sassy, salsa dancin’, cocktail slingin’ kind of couple. Not, like a pb&j couple who sits at home on a Thursday night watching CSI in their cardigans and slippers, trying to finish their vanilla ice cream before 8 pm. These crackers embody all that is sexy and fresh. And I had fresh garlic jump into the affair too, so now its like the sexy couple, but. With jet packs on. Hell yeah!
Did my analogy reach to far? … How about this– Who doesn’t love crackers??
The one snag, I’m sorry to say, is that you need a food processor. I know, I’m sorry. But I would love to hear about someone trying these without! It would probably involve a big bowl, sticky fingers, and consequentially a bulging bicep. But you could probably work your way through three Radiolabs instead of one. Bright side, yes.
Again, depending on how thin you roll your cheesy, spicy dough, these guys will get awesomely crunchy for you. By the time you eat one your whole mouth is glowing with cheddar-edged bite. By the time you eat three you’ve got that glorious burn from the jalapeño at the back of your throat. But the cheese cools all that out. So don’t worry if you’re heat-sensitive, it is naught but a playful warmth.
This recipe makes a bunch, like 50+, crackers. Depending on how thin you roll your dough out (because thin means both crunch and plentiful). And in the summer (or bloody hot beginning of Fall) a huge meal isn’t exactly the most appetizing thing. So put these out with a bowl of grapes and have pleasant conversation as the breeze attempts to cool your sweaty face.
The garlic bridges any gap between flavors and helps them fuse in such a compatible blend of tangy and hot, you will easily end up treating these crackers like popcorn. And the wheat flour makes it healthy. That’s right, I threw you bone. So you don’t have to feel guilty about your cheesy intake. If you’re the type to consider cheese anything other than peak pleasure, that is.
adapted from Smitten Kitchen
1 3/4 c. loosely packed cheddar cheese, grated (I used sharp)
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, for frying pan
1 jalapeno, diced with seeds
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. butter
Fat pinch of sea salt
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
Chop and peel your garlic, wash and chop you jalapeno.
In a frying pan, melt your first 2 tablespoons of butter and saute your jalapeno and garlic until fragrant. About 2 minutes. Set aside WITH all remaining (now flavorful) butter to cool to room temperature. I stuck mine on a little plate in the fridge.
In the mean time, measure out and sift your flours directly into the food processor (or big bowl! eh? eh?). Grate your cheese, sprinkle sea salt and add 2 remaining tablespoons of butter all into the food processor. No need to mix it at all, that’s what the food processor is for. When your garlic and pepper are cooled down enough, toss them in too.
Mix all ingredients together, pulsing on the food processor until everything comes together. This takes a bit of patience, but eventually it will go from grainy to a thoroughly combined dough ball, all within the food processor. You don’t have to touch it at all (see picture above for the finished dough ball).
If its really quite soft and warm, stick it in the fridge for a spell. Covered, of course. (1 spell=10-15 minutes)
Sprinkle a moderate amount of flour onto a clean work surface. Roll your dough out thin, about 1/8 inch thick. Careful! All that cheese makes the dough sticky. You may want to rub your rolling pin with a bit of flour too. Slow and easy rolling, now.
Use a small cookie cuter, or the lip of a juice glass, or the lid to a jam jar, or any other appropriately sized “cutter” you can find. Cut our as many crackers as you can, placing them on a sheet pan with parchment paper. Continue gathering up scrap dough and re-rolling it out until there is absolutely no dough left. Since your are baking these until crunchy there is no worry of over working the dough.
Using a fork, puncture the center of the crackers. This prevents them from puffing up into outtie bellybutton-like things. And makes them look like the way we think crackers should look
Bake for 15 minutes, or until a deep golden brown. Cool. Eat.