Tag Archives: crackers

Savory Olive Oil and Walnut Sables

27 Feb

My friend Corinna once confessed to me that when her child was a mere toddler, she developed the habit of calling all crackers “ccokies.”  It’s not like her toddler knew the difference between a cookie and a cracker at that point, having never been served a cookie at that point in his life, so I, of course, thought her plan was pure, platinum genius.

When you really think about what makes a cookie a cookie, I suppose there is not a lot, besides sugar, that really separates a cookie from a cracker.  There is a similar correlation, I feel, between what makes a muffin a muffin and not a tiny little cake (because, really, in most cases there is very little that separates a muffin from a cake, save for serving size and variations in toppings and/or frosting).  Both crackers and cookies begin with some sort of flour, followed by some sort of fat to provide texture and flavor.  After those two building blocks come flavorings and leavening agents, both of which will then veer you off in the direction of either cookie or cracker.

But what happens when you start thinking of how to join the two elements?  Is it possible to make a cookie that is more like a cracker, or a cracker that is suspiciously like a cookie?  Perhaps more importantly, why would someone want to accomplish such a thing?

The answer to all those questions, I give you this:

Melt-in-your-mouth sables that have the delicate, shattering texture of a cookie, but are speckled with fine bits of walnuts and a sprinkling of savory spices.  This is why you merge a cookie and a cracker.  Because there is nothing finer to nibble while having a glass of wine at the end of the day.  Because sometimes when you want a bit of a snack, you don’t really want any sugar to go along with it.  Because these, my friends, may be the most delicious experiment I have ever dreamed up on a whim, and I think you’d be missing out terribly if you didn’t try them out for yourself.

Savory Olive Oil and Walnut Sables

¼ cup walnut pieces

1 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon sea salt

1 egg yolk

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons water

Optional toppings: caraway seeds, truffle salt, poppy seeds

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse walnut pieces 5 or 6 times until they are ground medium-fine, with a few small chunks of walnut remaining.  Add flour and salt to walnuts and pulse to combine.  Add the egg yolk and pulse 2 or 3 more times to combine.

With the food processor running, pour in the olive oil in a slow stream, allowing the mixture to become uniformly combined.  With the food processor still running, drizzle in the water, then allow the dough to just start to clump together.

Shape the dough into a disc, then wrap in plastic and allow to rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Turn the rested dough out onto a well-floured work surface.  Roll out the dough until it is very thin, somewhere between ¼” and 1/8”.  The dough will be a bit crumbly, so roll with care.  Using a floured 2-inch biscuit cutter or cookie cutter, cut out rounds of dough and place on parchment lined baking sheet.  Reshape and reroll the dough as needed.  Using a fork or the tip of a small, sharp knife, poke several holes on top of each cracker.  If adding toppings, sprinkle each cracker with just a pinch of whatever toppings you choose.

Bake the crackers on the center rack of the oven for 10 to 12 minutes, until the edges are golden and the tops just beginning to develop color.  Cool on the sheet pan for 1 minute, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.  Crackers will be extremely delicate when hot, so transfer them with care.

Makes roughly 2 dozen sables.

Quick All Parmesan Crackers

15 Aug

For as infrequently as my husband and I entertain, you’d be faced with quite a difficult task if challenged to find someone who is more prepared to entertain than I am.  We own more cocktail glasses and tiny plates than I think we’ll ever be able to use.  There are at least three types of cheese knives in our silverware drawer, we’re never without an assortment of nuts and crackers for snacking, and we live four blocks away from an absolutely divine wine shop that is more than capable of supplying us with several festive nights’ worth of beverages.

My favorite party trick, however, might just be the one I only recently discovered.  Last week, after finishing off a small, precious package of delicate Parmesan crackers that was gifted to me by my cousin, I began to sniffle a little at the thought of no longer being able to nibble the crackers while enjoying a small splash of white wine as we relaxed in the garden each night.  The crackers were absolutely delightful, you see, very light, pleasantly piquant, and the perfect item to pair with a little nightcap.  Their savory secret lied in the fact that the crackers were made of nothing more than baked Parmesan cheese, a bit of knowledge I was privy to when I first received the crackers, but not really in full realization of until I ran out of them and almost immediately began to yearn for more.

The crackers, allow me to repeat, were made out of nothing but Parmesan cheese, an item I not only had in my refrigerator right then, but always make sure to have in the refrigerator at all times.  The mourning period was over.  The crackers would return.

And, ten minutes later, they did.  Brightened up with a small sprinkling of chopped fresh rosemary (an herb we are able to grow year-round) and a dash of cracked pepper (which, come on, everybody has on hand), I soon found myself in the company of my very own plate of homemade Parmesan crackers that are as easy to make as they are enjoyable to eat.  Made of only two ingredients at most, these crackers are a simple, satisfying treat that are the perfect greeting for any guest.  Or, if you are like me and my husband, they are the perfect small bite to enjoy while engaging very contentedly in a small and cozy party of two.

Quick Parmesan Crackers

These crackers are a totally self-contained treat, meaning they are not the type of cracker one is meant to eat topped with anything.  Trust me, though, you won’t long for any embellishment when eating one of these fine snacks, as they are perfectly fulfilling and satisfying all on their own.

Quick All Parmesan Crackers

½ cup coarsely shredded (not grated) Parmesan cheese

That’s it.  No, seriously.  That’s all.

Optional:

very finely chopped fresh rosemary

freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Scoop 1 rounded teaspoon of Parmesan cheese into a little mound on the parchment lined baking sheet.  If you want to add rosemary or black pepper to your crackers, sprinkle a pinch of each one onto as many Parmesan mounds as you wish, and gently mix in with your fingers.

Bake crackers for 5 minutes on the center rack of the oven.  The crackers will be done when they are deeply golden at the edges and just beginning to turn golden in the middle.  Remove sheet pan from the oven, and allow crackers to cool on pan for 2-3 minutes, until they have cooled firm enough to not fall apart when removed with a flexible spatula.

Makes 20-24 crackers.

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