Here’s another item we made up for that late afternoon reception we mentioned yesterday: cheese and pepper crackers. Sounds better as Cacio e Pepe, doesn’t it? More elegant, more refined, as though you’ll be eating a cracker that can stand up to the most finicky crowd. Well, we’re not sure if those attending the reception were the most finicky of eaters, and, in the late afternoon, some might have been hungry enough to eat just about anything; however, we can say that every one of these crackers was eaten, and that many people remarked on having a savory snack in the afternoon.
We modified, just slightly, the recipe we found in Edible DIY, by Lucy Baker. Partly to make it even easier to make up, and partly to reduce the amount of pepper — just a bit. If you’re looking for a tasty cracker recipe for a party, this might be it. The dough is made in a food processor in just a few minutes the night before, then it’s refrigerated, and the next day, just sliced and baked.
Makes around 30 crackers
It’s all about cheese. Pick up a nice tasty aged Pecorino Romano cheese. It should be made from sheep’s milk, and preferably from Italy. Not that you can’t find a good cheese made in the US; it’s just that Pecorino Romano is one of Italy’s oldest cheeses, so we have to think they’ve learned a thing or two since Roman times (yes, the recipe used today is the same as the one used in ancient Rome).
Procedure in detail:
Combine ingredients. Place the grated cheese, flour, salt, and pepper in the bowl of a food processor and give it a few pulses to mix. Our cheese wasn’t pre-grated, so we attached the grating blade to the processor, grated the cheese, then added the other ingredients to make it super simple.
Add butter. Distribute the butter over the top of the flour-cheese mixture. Pulse until the butter is cut in and the mixture looks like a coarse meal.
Add water. While pulsing the food processor, add ice water, about a tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes together in a ball and rides on the blade.
Shape. Press the dough together, if needed, and shape into a square log about 12 inches long, working on a lightly-floured surface. We do this by forming a round log, then dropping it on the counter repeatedly to turn the cylinder squarish-shaped in cross-section.
Wrap and chill. Wrap the log in plastic and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking mats.
Slice and bake. Slice the log into crackers about 1/8-inch thick. Place on the prepared sheets about 1/2-inch apart, and bake for 20 to 23 minutes or until they’re light golden brown. Watch them carefully towards the end so that they don’t over-bake; that would make them taste bitter.
Cool. Let the crackers cool on the baking sheets for 5 to 10 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.
Making these crackers is a really easy way to spiff up a tray of snacks. Almost no one makes his or her own crackers these days, but, with a recipe as easy as this, together we can reverse that trend towards those salt-flavored things that come from some corporate bakery. Imagine the possibilities: change up the cheese, use rosemary instead of pepper, and soon you’ll be having crackers that other people can only dream about. That is, of course, until you show them this post so they know how easy it really is! Then it’ll turn into a cracker revolution! Give me a tasty cracker or I’ll go hungry! Five stars.