Monday, December 2, 2013

12 Days of Christmas Treats Returns!! Day 1: Crackers?!

Hi Guys!!!

     Welcome back to the 12 Days of Christmas! This year, I'm branching out of just cookies, and giving you some more savory treats for your cookie tray. There will still be cookies, so don't worry, but today I thought I'd start with a cracker. About time a blog called “Crackers on the Couch” included a cracker recipe, wouldn't you say? I'll be using these crackers a few times during this series, so make a bunch and keep them in an airtight container. (If they get a little soggy, you can crisp them in the oven at 400° for about 4 minutes.) This recipe came from Crackers and Dips: More than 50 Homemade Snacks by Ivy Manning. Bear with me, this looks like a crazy complicated recipe, but it's actually really simple.

Homemade Ritz Crackers

Yield: 50 crackers
4 Tbs chilled unsalted butter
2 C unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp fine sea salt
2 tsp barley malt syrup* or dark corn syrup
1 Tbs vegetable oil
½ C water
1 egg beaten with 1 Tbs water
1 tsp kosher salt

*You can find barley malt syrup (a.k.a. barley malt extract) at beer making supply shops. You may have to buy a bunch of it, but it really does help add to the authentic flavor of these.  You can also find it on Amazon from several sellers.

Cut the butter into ¼ inch chunks and place in the freezer while combining the dry ingredients. In a food processor or large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, and sea salt and pulse or whisk to combine. Add the butter and pulse or cut the butter into the flour using a pastry cutter or your fingers until the butter is in tiny pieces and the mixture looks like coarse cornmeal, about 15 one-second pulses.

In a small bowl, whisk together the barley malt syrup, vegetable oil, and ½ C of the water, stirring to dissolve the malt extract. Gradually add the water mixture to the food processor or bowl, pulsing or mixing with a wooden spoon to combine. Gather up the dough into a ball, flatten into a disk, cover in plastic wrap, and chill for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.

Preheat the oven to 400° F. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface until it is 1/16 inches thick, picking up the dough occasionally and rotating it to make sure it's not sticking to the work surface. Using a round scalloped cookie cutter, cut the dough into 2 ½ inch rounds; reserve the scraps.

Fill one baking sheet with crackers, spacing them about ½ inch apart. Brush the crackers lightly with the beaten egg and then prick the crackers several times with a fork (a spoke pattern adds visual appeal). Sprinkle the crackers sparingly with some of the kosher salt and bake for 4 minutes; rotate the pan from back to front. Reduce the oven temperature to 375° F and continue to bake until the crackers are light golden brown and firm to the touch, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack.

Return the oven temp to 400° F and repeat the process with the remaining dough and scraps, baking the crackers one baking sheet at a time.

These are a nice cracker! They taste very much like Ritz crackers, but without all the extra garbage associated with a store-bought snack.  Hope you guys are as excited as I am for this years 12 Days of Christmas Treats!

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