Sometimes its hard to figure out what to bring or make, especially if the event is very casual (like an open house or game night) or already has all the food covered (like a dinner party). If you are tired of bringing the same old bottle of wine, you might consider giving crackers and cheese a try. I know, I know. How can crackers and cheese be exciting? Well, how 'bout if you HANDMADE the crackers?
Its a simple and elegant solution. As an appetizer or dessert course, it is light and goes with any event. Plus, you'll be sure that at least ONE thing you are eating has some nutritional value (this is pretty much 3 ingredients: 100% whole wheat flour, olive oil and sesame seeds with a little salt & water). See? So fiber, healthy fats AND some key trace minerals, to boot! Plus its pretty easy to make, not much more difficult than holiday cookies AND if you are trying to keep the sugar consumption low, this could be a great substitute for those little sugar bombs!
Now, these aren't dainty and do well with stronger cheeses, either sliced or spready. I'm sure that like me, you'll appreciate having something sturdy that doesn't keep snapping off or crumbling all over! We've paired this up with blues, sharp cheddars and a wonderful cranberry goat cheese log.
For the crackers pictured, I've simply cut the dough into rough squares/rectangles BUT if you want to be more festive, any kind of cookie cutter would work well here and really give your crackers a professional appearance. Remember when rolling out the dough, you can NOT go too thin. When you think you have it as thin as you possibly can, make another pass and try again!
Recipe: Whole Wheat Sesame Crackers
adapted from this NY Times recipe
1 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour
1/4 cup sesame seeds, toasted (black or white will work equally well)
1/2 tsp salt
5 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
4-8 Tbs water
1) Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or silpat.
2) In bowl of food processor, combine flour, sesame seeds & salt. Pour in olive oil and pulse until mixture is crumbly. Add water, 1 Tbs at a time until dough can be pressed into a ball. Amount will vary depending on your flour and weather. I typically use around 6 tbs.
3) LIGHTLY dust work surface. Divide dough into 2 even portions. Roll out and cut one portion at a time. Roll as thin as possible. The thinner the dough, the crisper (vs. crunchier) the final cracker will be.
4) Cut into desired shapes (use sharp knife, cookie cutters or biscuit cutter). Repeat for 2nd half of dough.
5) Place on prepared baking sheet, close but not touching.
6) Bake 15-25 minutes, until lightly browned. Time will depend on how thick your final cracker dough is and how full your tray is. Mine are typically done around 23 minutes with a medium thick dough (I'm working on getting it thinner!) and a very full tray.
7) Remove and allow to cool on wire racks.
8) Keep in airtight container approximately 1-2 weeks. However if you find them getting a bit stale, just pop them back into the oven for 2-3 minutes.
As always, feel free to comment below! I'd love to hear how this worked out for you!
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