Sunday, December 13, 2009

Cheese Thins

I've been cooking tons lately, and promising people I'd share recipes with them, so perhaps it's time to resurrect this blog, too. Let's give it a try, anyway!

One of my favorite cooking blogs is Chocolate & Zucchini, and I have Clotilde to thank for these lovely cheese crackers. I have never been a huge fan of chips and crackers -- yes, some of us can eat just one -- although I wouldn't pass up a few Triscuits. But these lovely cheesy crisps go far beyond the dry, uniform crackers that come in a box. They're perfect for the holidays, too: you can make the dough ahead of time, and just slice and bake the thins right before you need them. Once baked, they will keep nicely in a sealed container for a couple days, so you can prepare them ahead if you want. The trick is keeping the snackers at bay.

Cheese Thins

(Makes about six dozen, depending on how thick you slice them)

In a medium bowl combine:

170 grams (6 ounces) extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated

55 grams (4 tablespoons) butter, diced and softened

100 grams (3 1/2 ounces, or about 3/4 cup) flour

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon ground spicy paprika or ground chili powder

Using a dough blender or two knives, mix these ingredients together until they form a dough. If the mixture seems too dry to form a ball add a dash of milk or cream.

Shape the dough into a log, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until it is firm enough to slice easily, about an hour or up to one day ahead. (You can put it in the freezer for 20 minutes to speed it up.)

Preheat the oven to 180Cº (360Fº) and line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicon baking mat. Remove the dough from the fridge, slice it lengthwise and then slice each half into thin half-moons; arrange on the baking sheet (they will expand a little). Return any unused dough to the fridge between batches.

Sprinkle lightly with salt and chili pepper and bake for 10 to 14 minutes, until golden. Let the cheese thins rest on the baking sheet for a minute before transferring them to a cooling rack. Serve immediately, or store tightly covered.

Buying info:

I really like Costco's sharp cheddar for these; an extra-sharp cheddar would also be excellent, but I wouldn't use mild. You can substitute other cheeses, but they are so pricey here that I tend to use the more readily available ones for cooking.

Silicon mats are available at Walason's (aka The Pineapple Store, aka Cook Box), on Benguan Road. You'll find them on the paper products aisle, near the parchment paper and foil. They are tan, rolled up tubes, and each roll can be cut in half to line two full sized baking sheets. They're a real bargain, much better than the Silpat liners.

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