Thursday, June 19, 2008

It's the Cheese, Gromit

If you are a fan of British humor, claymation, or both, you probably are familiar with Wallace and Gromit. Perhaps my favorite of the shorts featuring those two silly characters was the one where Wallace decided to take a trip to the moon for some cheese...he really loves cheese you see. Gromit is the long suffering dog and Wallace is a sort of an inventor.

Thinking of them got me thinking of cheese. For years I've seen various recipes for small buttery cheese crackers. In the 50s they were called Cheese Coins and they were very small and served with cocktails. Later versions jazzed them up with hot pepper, sesame seeds, nuts, sea salt, mixtures of cheeses, etc. In the end they are really a very buttery refrigerator cookie...that happens to be savory instead of sweet. I like them with cheddar and lots of butter.

After browsing a number of recipes, I found one that used a food processor for most of the recipe. Making lots of changes, as usual, I came up with a tender and flavorful cheese cracker with just a bit of a kick from cayenne pepper, lots of cheddar, a little Parmesan, and the best part, ground pecans. They add texture and their own wonderful nutty flavor.

I brought some of these to the watercolor show reception. The brownies made by a fellow student were finished off first, but a good dent was made in the bowl of cheese crackers, too. Try them with a salad on a hot summer night. They would be good with a tall glass of iced tea or with some soup, too. Since you can make them ahead and only bake as many as you need, they are a great item to have in the fridge or freezer for unexpected guests. A few of these and a glass of red wine would make them feel welcome while you are searching you pantry for the makings of a quick meal to serve them.
As you can see from the photos, I find the ingredients and things like the unbaked log of dough fascinating visually. The baked crackers are pretty, too.


Elle's Pecan and Cheddar Cheese Crackers
a variation on a number of recipes, most inspired by Cheese and Nut Biscuits recipe found in Kitchen Sense by Mitchell Davis

½ cup pecans
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups grated sharp Cheddar cheese
½ cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
½ cup spelt flour (or substitute ½ cup whole wheat flour)
¾ cup cake flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

In the bowl of a food processor, place the pecans and the Parmesan cheese. Pulse the processor until the pecans are finely chopped. Pour this mixture into a medium mixing bowl and set aside.

In the bowl of a food processor (no need to clean out the bowl after chopping the pecans) place the butter and Cheddar cheese. Process until blended, just a bit after a ball starts to form around the blade.

Sift together the spelt or whole wheat flour, the cake flour, the salt and the cayenne pepper. Add to the Cheddar mixture in the food processor and pulse just until combined. Stop before a ball forms.

Take a rubber spatula and transfer all of the mixture into the pecan/Parmesan mixture. Stir with the spatula (or clean hands) very briefly and gently, just until nut mixture in combined with Cheddar mixture.

Make two or three logs using plastic wrap, with the rolls having a diameter or about an inch or inch and a half. Wrap the plastic wrap tightly around the logs and refrigerate until firm, at least an hour or two. (It is OK to let these refrigerate overnight. If not baking them within 24 hours, store in the freezer. Can be frozen for 1 month.)

When logs are firm, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place Silpat mat or parchment paper on two large cookie sheets. Using a sharp knife, slice the logs into crackers about ¼ inch thick. Lay the crackers on the prepared pans, leaving about an inch between the crackers to allow them to color. The crackers don’t usually spread when baking.

Bake until golden, about 10-15 minutes. About halfway through baking, switch the pan on the top rack to the bottom rack and the pan from the bottom rack to the top rack for more even cooking.

Once removed from the oven, let cool on the pan a couple of minutes to firm up a bit, then transfer with a spatula to a rack to cool completely. Store airtight at room temperature for a day, or refrigerate. If storing more than a day, you may need to crisp them up in a 400 degree F oven for3-4 minutes before serving. Serve cooled. Makes about 5 dozen small crackers.


7 comments:

Peabody said...

Well, I love everything in these. If I top them with bacon they would be the most perfect food. :)

Patricia Scarpin said...

I have been thinking of savory cookies for a while now, Elle, and these would make me so happy!

Elle said...

Peabody, You're right! Bacon topping would make them perfect. Shouda thought of that.

Patricia, These are great savory crackers.

Mrs. L said...

I do remember cheese coins! Man it's been ages, but I remember they were served when my mom had a coctail party. And as for Wallace and Gromit...I will never look at a bunny the same again :)

Elle said...

Mrs. L, They were quite the thing when my parents entertained. I found them very rich...could only eat a few and they are about the size of a quarter, too.
The movie was fun, but do check out the shorts...you will have another take on penguins, sheep, and cheese.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Oh I use to love these. I'm sure I still do. Yes all go for the bacon!!

DaviMack said...

Ooooh - I'm thinking they'd be great with Parmesan! Yum!