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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Cheese Crackers - AKA "Fake Cheese Its"

I have always loved Cheese Its™ and most of the various impostors. In fact, lately I really like the "generic" version sold at Albertson's. But, it seems that every year these little treats get more and more expensive. A large box of Cheese Its™ can now cost up to four dollars or more unless you catch a sale. That's really ridiculous when you think what goes into them.

Other than all the bizarre chemicals to make them stay "fresh" on the shelf for months (or years) all of these crackers are little more than flour, milk, and cheese. In fact, even the super expensive "gourmet" crackers they conveniently place near the cheeses and wine aren't hard to make at home and for a lot less money and less chemicals, too!

So, here's a quick and simple recipe for a fake Cheese It™ cracker. It's not an exact taste copy but is very good and something you can serve to adults at a party without feeling self conscious! The great thing about this is you can use it for anything. You can use Parmesan instead of Cheddar. You can leave out the cheese completely and throw in some herbs and olive oil. You can use a little garlic - whatever taste happens to tickle your fancy. You can also cut these in circles like water crackers or wafers or little squares... whatever the occasion this will work!

Plus, this takes only about 10 minutes to bake and less than 10 minutes to assemble the dough and roll it out!

1 cup all-purpose flour, more as needed
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1/2 cup finely grated Cheddar cheese
4 tbs. unsalted butter
1/4 cup cream, more as needed

Pre-heat oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silpat.

In bowl of mixer, cut cold butter into flour using pastry cutter. Using paddle attachment mix in cream, salt, and cheese until dough begins to form a ball. Switch to dough hook attachment and knead until dough slaps sides of bowl. (The more you knead this dough the crisper your final cracker will be!)

Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface until very thin (1/2-inch or thinner - I go almost paper thin for really crisp crackers).

Transfer sheet of dough to prepared baking sheet. Score lightly with a sharp knife, pizza cutter or a pastry wheel to form small squares if you are planning to break apart for serving. Otherwise, you can use a small cookie cutter to lightly score the dough. Sprinkle with kosher or sea salt or other topping if you like.

Bake until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Cool on a rack. These will keep several days in an airtight container.

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