Thursday, August 21, 2008

Cheddar Crackers

It should be no surprise that Abby loves Goldfish cheddar cheese crackers - is there a toddler who doesn't? I first had the idea to make Abby her own homemade cheddar crackers about a year ago, and I make these from time to time when I am tired of seeing the neon orange Goldfish crumbs all over the house. Are they as good as Goldfish? Well, no, I won't lie - they aren't. Goldfish are like toddler crack. But these are good, and tasty, and crispy, and best of all - you know what's in them.

Cheddar Crackers
Prep time: 5 minutes (plus 40 minutes of chilling)
Bake time: 5-10 minutes

3/4 cup flour (I used King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 cup butter, cut in pieces
1 cup grated cheddar

Add the dry ingredients to your food processor and pulse 2-3 times to mix. Sprinkle the butter pieces on top; pulse until the mixture resembles cornmeal. Add the grated cheese and run the processor until the dough forms big globs that are sticking together (this takes me about 1-2 minutes). Turn the globs out onto your work surface and knead and pack the dough with your hands until it all comes together. Form the dough into a 2-inch roll. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 35-40 minutes (or longer).

Slice the chilled dough into 1/4" thick rounds. Bake in a 400F oven on an ungreased cookie sheet for about 10 minutes. OR, cut the rounds into six wedges to make smaller, triangular crackers, and bake in the 400F oven for 5-7 minutes (5 minutes yielding a fairly soft, chewy cracker - 7 will give you a crispy cracker, but with danger of a burned bottom. If your toddler is like mine, she will pick up each slightly burned one and say "oh no! black!" and refuse to eat it. So watch those bottoms!).

Personally, I prefer to cut the crackers into wedges - it only takes a tiny bit more time, and then each cracker can be eaten in one bite, cutting down on the crumbs produced. If you are not too worried about sodium intake, you can take a few pinches of coarse salt and sprinkle it over the crackers before baking - it really improves the flavor.

The first time I made these, I rolled out the dough and used cookie cutters to make little animal shaped crackers. This was back when I only had one child, who took 2 naps a day, and I had a lot of time on my hands. It worked, and if you are so inclined, go ahead and cut out billions of little crackers into cute shapes!

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