Cheesy bites

Disconnecting from the interwebz earlier this autumn left me with a hefty backlog of blog posts to catch up on. It's been pretty fantastic to have a seemingly endless supply of unread content from my favourite bloggers just as the weather nosedived toward winter. If you spend any time in the food blogosphere—which obviously you do, since you're here—you'll know that food bloggers have a tendency to herd: posting similar things using similar ingredients at similar times. It makes sense. We're often responding to the same seasonal produce, preparing for the same holidays, and seeking inspiration in the same places.

As I cruised my bookmarked sites, one snack in particular seemed to pop up again and again in recent months: cheese crackers. When the universe is so adamant, what else is a girl to do but head to the kitchen and get crackin'. Womp womp.

Aside from whole wheat Premium Plus for my tomato soup, which is totally non-negotiable, I rarely buy crackers. Mostly because I love them too much. Sit me down with a box of Cheese Nips or Triscuits or Ritz (oh Lord, especially the Ritz) and I'll plow through the whole thing in one go—no buttery, salt-covered carb left undemolished. I'm a real champ like that.

Seriously though, the deliciousness-to-effort ratio on these nippers is sky high. They're more like little bites of pastry than true crackers, but that can hardly be considered a character flaw. We ate them as a crackéritif (that's cracker + apéritif) before my all-time favourite butternut squash and black bean soup, but they'd be a worthy party snack or cheese plate addition. The next time I get my hands on a jar of hot pepper jelly, I'm breaking out this recipe.

Cheese Crackers
140 grams flour
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 clove garlic, pressed or finely minced
55 grams cold salted butter, cubed
60 grams strong cheese, grated (I used gruyere and pecorino)
Up to 2 tablespoons cold water

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set it aside.

Measure the flour, chili powder and garlic into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse several times to blend. Add the butter and cheese and pulse just until the mixture begins to clump. Add the water 1/2 tablespoon at a time, pulsing between each addition, until the dough begins to form a ball.

Dump the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Carefully roll it out as thinly as you can (1/2 centimetre or even less is ideal). Cut into shapes using a knife or flour-dusted cookie cutters. Transfer the cutouts to the prepared baking sheet.

Bake for about 15 minutes, or until puffed and golden. Cool before noshing.

Source: Adapted from Joy the Baker's Cheddar Cheese Crackers and converted to weight measurements for my Paris kitchen.