The other day I was feeling munchy, and my kitchen was empty. I had no bread. I had no sauces or leftovers in the fridge. I had just tried to throw together a soba noodle salad for dinner (and unfortunately put too much soy-mirin dressing on it), and I was still hungry. The good thing was, that I knew exactly what I wanted: Ritz crackers. The bad thing was that I didn’t have any (they’re much too expensive to have for casual snacking options), and the stores were already closed (preventing an impulse “non-casual” snack experience, if such exists).
What to do?
Bake them of course! Online I went, searching for recipes. My friend Melissa sent me a couple links, and based off of those and some that I found, I threw together a recipe to try. I decided to abandon the Ritz idea – I knew it would be a while until I would be able to perfect a recipe that tastes and looks like Ritz crackers. Nevertheless, I did have some shredded cheese in the fridge, which was precisely enough to make half the amount of the recipe I had “created.”
They turned out perfect: cheesy, chewy and yet crunchy, and very filling. The filling property I assume came from the massive amounts of butter (I eyeballed it, and probably put in more than the recipe called for) as well as the cheese. You could probably put in any kind of cheese – the recipe calls for extra sharp Cheddar, though I used Emmenthaler. Any kind of strong hard cheese you can find (I’m thinking a Pecorino or an aged Provolone would be good too) will make for a fantastic cracker. I left out the cayenne pepper because I had none, but I’m sure that would add a tasty complexity. Brainstorming for what these would be really good with I’ve come up with an appetizer idea to spread them with a little bit of olive pate, as well as accompanying a tasty gourmet salad. Or, simply snack on them (three or four will be enough to satisfy you!) while you correct your student’s essays analysing pop music as a way to address and discuss racism.
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups flour, sifted
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
2 cups cheese
1 dash cayenne pepper (to taste)
Sea Salt for topping (optional)
1. Stir together flour, salt, baking powder, and cayenne pepper.
2. Cut butter into dry ingredients, add cheese, and mix with your hands just until it forms a dough (if you have some small bits of butter not fully mixed in, that’s fine).
3. For best results, let it sit half an hour in the fridge. If you’re impatient, like me, roll it out to about 1/4 inch thickness (ca. 1/2-1 cm) right away and cut out rounds/shapes with a glass or cookie cutter. Place on parchment paper-lined cookie sheet and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake at 400F (200C) for about ten minutes*. Let cool on cookie sheet until you can safely remove them to cool all the way on a rack.
Yield: about forty crackers.
* This is very arbitrary, since my mini oven is for sure not the same as yours. Check temperature and cookies frequently to prevent burning! I took mine out when they were still quite pale, but you could let them brown if you prefer.