Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Homemade Cheez-Its

My oven has been working super overtime lately! I was in a cooking mood, as I have been since about a week after giving birth because I had my desire to eat and my taste buds back. I made roasted chickpeas, granola and these delicious homemade Cheez-its! The only recipe appropriate for this blog, however, is the Cheez-its.  (I may post the chickpea recipe, but once it's perfected. I haven't gotten it just right yet.) Cooking this much with a one month old is a little taxing, I'm not gonna lie, but I popped her in her carrier and brought her into the kitchen. They say you should talk to babies because they recognize your voice and it relaxes them. Plus, it's supposed to be good for their cognitive development, and for Emily (who is beginning to track objects), it lets her follow me around the kitchen with her eyes. So, to entertain her and myself, I threw on some tunes and sang to her as I cooked. It's a good thing she's not objective to my being tone deaf!

So I taught my darling daughter how to make Cheez-its. I was very impressed by the low number of ingredients and the overall taste and texture of the final product.

As per the usual, here is the recipe as given by the original site:

1 1/2 c (6oz) grated extra-sharp Cheddar Cheese
4 T unsalted butter, softened and cut into pieces
3/4 c flour (plus more for dusting)
1/2 tsp salt
1 T milk

Preheat your oven to 350.
Put everything except the milk into a food processor. Pulse your processor a few times until everything becomes coarse crumbs.
Add the milk
Process until dough gathers into a ball
Roll out the dough onto a floured board until it is about 1/8" thick
Cut into 1" squares with a floured knife or pizza cutter
Use a toothpick or skewer to poke a hole in the center
Place crackers 1/4" apart on a baking sheet
Bake 12-15 minutes or until edges are brown.
Cool completely and eat, or store in an airtight bag (or container) to enjoy later.

Luckily, Cal bought me a food processor for Christmas. (I know, most people would be like, 'gee, thanks dear', but I was excited!). So this was a super easy process. If you don't have a food processor, this is still a workable recipe. You'll just have to chop your cheese and butter into fine, fine pieces (think, chopping parsley), and work it into a dough. It comes together pretty quickly, and you're rolling out your dough in no time, so be sure to actually preheat your oven when you start. (If you're anything like me, you know most things take longer than it takes to preheat so you wait a while to save money on that gas bill!) I found that rolling out the dough that thin was the hardest part for me. The edges were thin and the middle was a little thicker, so they baked a little unevenly. I used a plastic pizza cutter to make the squares. They still came out a little crooked, but it gives them that nice, homemade look ;). If you want to get really fancy, you can use a fork and mark the edges like a real Cheez-it, but I declined to do so. If I make these as a gift or for a special occasion, I may go ahead and get fancy, but today was just not the day. These were last on my list of items being made and Emily was getting fussy, so I needed to get them in the oven.

Fifteen minutes later, I had these delicious looking crackers. They weren't as orange as the store bought variety, though I didn't expect them to be. I'm sure they add some kind of food coloring to them. After they cooled, I tried one. It was pretty good! They didn't taste exactly like the store bought, but they weren't a bad knockoff. They definitely need to be sprinkled with salt before baking. I had only used sharp cheese, and the super cheap, below store brand kind at that, so they weren't quite as good as I expected. Now that I know the recipe is good, however, I'll buy some of the really good stuff next time I decide to make them. The recipe doesn't make many, however. I got two medium sized pans out of it (as you can see in the picture below). I'm not sure how long these will keep, but I would assume about a week (if they make it that long in the pantry). Since this dough rolls out nicely, perhaps I'll try different shapes or small cookie cutters for Emily once she's old enough to eat them :)

So there you have it, folks; Homemade cheese crackers for your delight. Now, perhaps one of these days I'll get some time to try a Pinterest project that is non food related. I guess that's all up to Emily ;)

Happy Snacking!

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