Is everyone else just COMPLETELY OVER WINTER? Since I left Chicago, I figured winter would become a minor annoyance rather than a soul-crushing, five-month-long flirtation with clinical depression, but apparently I was wrong. It’s not that it’s so cold in DC, it’s more like — hey! Don’t you know it’s almost April??
My friends and family back in Kansas City have been having their own version of a terrible winter. Right before Saint Patty’s I got texts saying ‘It’s 80 degrees today!!” And then a week later:
When it’s cold and gross outside, I get the urge to hunker down, not leave the house, and maybe undertake a baking project or two. If I lived in Southern California, I probably never would have made that insanely delicious babka or those homemade bagels!
[…I’d also probably be a lot thinner and tanner. Hmmm.]
Anyway, last weekend I decided to hunker down with a new project — homemade Cheez-its! Only…they actually weren’t even all that much work. Just throw a bunch of stuff in a food processor, make a dough, then roll it out and cut up your crackers. I was surprised — homemade crackers sound like they’d be so…complicated…but apparently not.
I was really pleased with how these turned out. They looked a lot like Cheez-its, and even though they weren’t quite as crunchy as Cheez-its, they tasted so much…cheesier. Thumbs up in my book.
HOMEMADE CHEEZ-ITS (recipe from She Makes and Bakes)
8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, cut into a few chunks (I actually used medium cheddar, all was well)
3 tbsp cold butter
1 tbsp vegetable shortening
1/2 tsp salt
pinch cayenne pepper
1 cup flour
2 tbsp ice-cold water
Kosher salt (for sprinkling)
1. In food processor, combine cheese, butter, shortening, salt, and cayenne pepper. Pulse until combined and add flour (if you have a small food processor like me, you can still do this, you’ll just need to do it in batches). Pulse until everything is broken down and looks like crumbs. Add water and pulse until combined into a dough (you can add a little more water if you need to — I didn’t — but don’t add too much, or the dough will get too wet) Divide dough into two pieces, and wrap each piece in wax paper. Chill in fridge at least 30 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 375. Roll dough out on wax paper until it’s about 1/8 inch thick. Using a pizza cutter, cut dough into 1-inch squares (you can use a ruler to make sure the crackers are all the same size, but I just eyeballed it. You do want them to be as close in size as possible so they bake evenly).
3. Transfer crackers to a baking sheet (you can put them pretty close together). Use a toothpick or skewer to punch a hole in the middle of the square, otherwise the crackers will puff up too much. Bake at 375 for 10-15 minutes, or until lightly browned. You may need to go longer (the original recipe called for 20-25 minutes, but my first batch was burned at 18). Definitely check on them at 10 minutes to make sure they’re not too browned. Cool completely.
Yum! This makes about 100 crackers, depending on how thinly you roll the dough. I will say that the baking time seemed to vary depending on how big your Cheez-its are — I would check them at 10 minutes and know that you may need to bake them as long as 20.