I beamed down from the planet Cheese. Seriously. During my junior year of college I nearly subsisted on wedges of Laughing Cow Light Cheese alone. Well those and salads, but come on, we all know salad is just an excuse for cheese. I feel similarly about my daily egg whites. What fun are they without shredded mozzarella? Most recently I’ve embraced eating Granny Smith apples with a few bits of cheddar. You could say cheese is my crack.
It makes sense then that from the moment Molly Yeh posted about her homemade sriracha gouda cheese-its, I needed them. My random interest in crackers was slow to catch fire as you might imagine as they are arguably the world’s most boring food. First I read about Joy’s sharp cheddar cheese (and chili cheese) crackers, then Molly Wizenberg’s oatcakes. And by the time Molly Yeh posted about her cheese-its, which feature my all-time favorite—SMOKED GOUDA—my cracker-love was blazing.
I made three different kinds of cheese crackers last week. Yeh’s, and both of Joy’s. This crunchy kitchen showdown yielded one reigning champ—a hybrid. It mixes many of the ingredients in Joy’s chili cheese crackers with Yeh’s dough base and baking times.
Ready to cook some crack?
Chili Cheese Crackers
4 tbs. unsalted butter at room temperature
8 oz. cheddar cheese (I used a 2 year aged block of yellow cheddar)
1 cup all purpose flour whisked with:
- around 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp. chili powder
- 1/4 tsp. paprika (smoked if you have it, I didn’t)
- Joy also adds ancho chili powder but I didn’t have any
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to bake at 350 degrees and place rack in the upper third of the oven.
- Throw all ingredients into an Oscar or other small-ish food processor and mix until it comes together into a dough. You can also mix the dough with a pastry knife if you’re feeling old school or don’t have access to a food processor. It’s just more annoying.
- Put a piece of parchment paper down on a flat surface and use a rolling pin to roll out the ball of dough until it’s 1/8 in. thick.
- Break out the cookie cutters! I made mini moons, tiny hearts, and small stars. You could also use a pizza cutter à la Molly and make simple rectangles. Collect the scraps and repeat until you’ve used all the dough.
- Arrange the cut crackers on the parchment atop a cookie sheet. The crackers don’t expand much in the oven so feel free to use every inch of the parchment.
- Bake the crackers in the upper third of the oven for 20 minutes. Err on the side of over-baking. They get crunchier the longer they’re in the oven. Until they turn black. Then you’ve probably overdone it.
- They get a little greasy since you are melting cheese and butter after all, so I immediately placed the crackers in a single layer on a paper towel after removing them from the oven but this is optional.
- Just try to stop eating them.
If you’re at all spice-phobic these are your gateway drug. Despite what sounds like an ample amount of hot stuff present, the crackers are quite subtle and the intense cheesiness is what really comes through. The spices just give the crackers a nice toasty flavor. I swear this tastes like the actual recipe for Goldfish.
Until next week, farewell from the land of fromage!