Monday, March 19, 2012

Homemade Artisanal Cheese Crackers

I've been reading food blogs for quite a few years and I've discovered that almost everyone has a 'holy grail' recipe or two. You know, that one elusive food that you're just dying to perfect; the one that sends you back into the kitchen time and time again, searching for the perfect ingredients, in just the right ratio, combined in just the right way to create kitchen alchemy.

Some bloggers have a whole list of 'holy grail' foods - usually topped by French macarons and laminate dough - and while these fancy foods would make The Traveling Spoon's list, they'd be topped by something far more ordinary: homemade Goldfish crackers.

There's just something so wholesome and nostalgic about those cheesy, cheddary little fishes. Devoured by the handful, or eaten patiently one by one, Goldfish crackers always remind me of childhood Sunday school lessons - all Elmer's glue and dixie cups of apple juice.

Matt gets so many compliments on his Goldfish snack containers -
even tough soldiers like Goldfish!

Since Matt and I don't have kids yet, it's hard to come up with excuses to buy Goldfish, which is why I've decided to take matters into my own hands. I've been looking for The Perfect Goldfish Recipe for weeks. I even bought Matt a Goldfish-shaped snack container to take his crackers to work - which is why I'm doubly sad that this recipe is not it.

I made some square ones too - just like gourmet Cheez-Its!

Don't get me wrong, it's a good recipe. It makes delicious, buttery crackers that are rich with the tangy flavor of cheddar, but their open, airy texture and ultra-butteryness makes them more like gourmet Cheez-Its or cheese straws than Goldfish. I guess it doesn't help that mine also look a little bit like sharks! I'm sharing the recipe nonetheless, because these crackers are pretty darn tasty, but you can be sure that the search for the holy grail of Goldfish recipes will continue!

A few notes: Since I don't have a food processor, I've given directions for making the crackers by hand. This method works fine, but pulsing the ingredients in a food processor would certainly save time and might yield a smoother dough. Just take care not to overwork the dough once the chilled butter has been added or you'll get flat crackers! Also, I've used weights rather than volumes for this recipe because that's how the original was written, but it's also what I tend to use when I want to be more accurate for things like breads or doughs - I thought that applied here. A kitchen scale is such a worthwhile investment, but I'll try to make my next version volumetric for those of you who don't have one!

Homemade Cheese Crackers
from Delicious Days

125g bread flour
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
50g cold butter
150g mild cheddar* cheese, finely shredded (orange cheddar will yield a more rustic-looking cracker)
2-3 Tablespoons water

*You could also substitute part of this for any other flavorful, moderately hard cheese like Gruyere or a bit of Asiago.

Grate cheese as finely as possible. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour and salt. Cut the cold butter into small cubes and add to the mixing bowl. Incorporate into the dry ingredients using a pastry cutter or the tines of a fork. Continue to cut the mixture until it resembles small peas. Stir in the grated cheese and cut with the pastry cutter until well incorporated. Add water gradually until the dough begins to come together (I used 2 Tablespoons). Dump the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap and knead into a ball. Form into a large disc, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll the chilled dough out onto the parchment covered baking sheet to about 1/8-inch thickness. Cut into squares using a pizza cutter or into bit-sized shapes with cookie cutters (crackers will bake faster if you space them out a bit on the pan).

Bake for 12-20 minutes in the center of the oven, until crackers are nicely golden and the edges are lightly browned (watch them closely towards the end because underbaking will yield soft crackers, while overbaking spoils the flavor ). Allow crackers to cool completely on a clean countertop or wire rack. For optimum crispness and flavor, you should eat the crackers on the day they are baked, but if necessary you can store them in an airtight container for a couple of days.

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  1. You don't need children to justify purchasing goldfish crackers ;). These look great - thanks for sharing!!

  2. These crackers are so cute
    I loooooove cheese crackers and it would be fun to make them as goldfish

  3. I love this! I made these too... a different recipe. My son loved them. However, we made stars.. where did you get the fish at? We would love to have you link up with us at our Naturally-Nifty Linky Party!!!

  4. Thanks for inviting me to link up! Unfortunately, I don't remember where the fish cookie cutter came from - I've had it for years and never used in until now! I think stars would be pretty cute, too, though!

  5. Oh my heavens my two year old would love these! I'd love it if you'd share thes at Whimsy Wednesdays at

    1. I'm so glad you shared these at Whimsy Wednesdays! I'm pinning it so I remember to make it for Riley.

  6. Ohhh, I love cheese crackers! I will have to give this a try! :)
    I would love for you to share this with my "Unveil Your Genius" Link Party.

    Happy Friday!

  7. Ha. I always eat all of my of my son's goldfish! I had no idea you could make your own! Thanks for sharing!

  8. Very cool! I like goldfish too, but was interested in a homemade version. Thanks for sharing, even if they weren't all that much like Goldfish

    We'd love to have you at our new link up party: if you're interested =)

  9. So funny. I was actually just joking with someone about making your own fish crackers. Didn't imagine you could actually do it. So cute.

  10. I've been eyeing these for a while now. They look so yummy and look like so much fun. I'll have to make these soon!

  11. I have an almost 5 year old who would love these. he's a huge goldfish fan. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe at Scrumptious Sunday! Good luck on your quest...

  12. This looks SO good! Much better than the store bought! I have featured it over on this week's edition of Makin' You Crave Monday. Come on over & check it out - and link up something new this week while you're at it! :)