Monday, January 28, 2013

Picky Kid Seal of Approval- homemade crackers

I've learned a lot about making crackers of the past couple months. I've learned that different flour combinations can really change the flavors. I've learned that in order to make them thin enough to get crispy (and not just hard) I need to roll them directly out on my counters with lots of flour.

Crackers also tend to go from "done" to "whoops, but these still taste good" to "uh oh, toss 'em" pretty quickly, so you have to watch them.

The biggest thing I've learned though, is that there are a million recipes out there on the web that promise to be like Cheez-its or Wheat Thins but that doesn't mean your kids will actually eat them.

I gave up for a few weeks because we got busy, and actually we've gotten sort of used to just not having crackers and pretzels around. I have been meaning to get back to it, because while I have no issues with sending the girls to school without that stuff, it sure makes packing snacks easier since they can't have nuts for snack time. While I have been trying to keep it all as lightly processed as possible, I will admit that I have super picky eaters. So I'm guilty of wanting to take the easy way out sometimes to get a little variety for them. For me, in this case, these crackers are the easy way out.

Anyway, on Saturday I mixed up some dough and stuck it in the fridge to wait until I had some time to rolle them out. It took just a few minutes in my food processor (that includes grating the cheese from the large block of cheese I had). In the future, btw, I think I'd use a sharper cheddar as opposed to the colby-jack mix I used. The colby-jack gave it a very cheesy flavor but I think the sharper tang of a sharp cheddar would make them even more like their processed counterparts. Otherwise this dough came together super easy and before I knew it, I had a flat disc of dough wrapped in the fridge and was washing the few dishes I used for it.

(please excuse my poor photography skills)

The best thing about these is that my two older daughters loved them (those of you who know us personally know that this is a Big Deal. The next best thing is that even though these are slightly higher in fat than the boxed ones, it's from REAL cheese and REAL butter. Obviously, you should still be observing proper portioning because even homemade snacks are still just that, snacks). Finally, the recipe makes just about the same amount as what comes in the box. 

If you attempt these at home, here are some tips:

Don't try to make them perfectly, it won't happen. Poke holes in them, I forgot on one batch and while they still tasted great, they were a little puffier. I used all whole wheat flour, but I'm sure you could play with that some if trying your own versions at home and if you try a gluten free version, I'd love to hear about it!****

Try to rotate out several cookie sheets because you will want to use cooled cookie sheets for each batch since they are so thin. I feel this is a great excuse for me to be able to buy some new ones, plus a few more silicone mats, right?

The biggest thing is to make sure you get them thin thin thin. I rolled them so thin I could see the dark of my countertops underneath (yes, I did it right on a clean countertop). This was the biggest change between this recipe and the past tests. I did NOT get those other ones thin enough. In the future I'll revisit a Wheat Thin copycat recipe and see if I can get it thinner. I'm also working on graham crackers (right now, my favorite is this one)

*** If you are interested,  here are some links to a gluten free recipe I Googled.
My field of Green - Gluten Free "Cheez-Its" - and FYI- that blog is adorable! She uses a rice flour and adds some xanthan gum and corn starch.

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