Harissa & Cheese Crackers
(also known as the recipe everyone will be asking you about after you serve these as an app/scoop/accoutrement/stand-at-the-freezer snack).
The gist of the recipe is take some grated cheese (preferably cheddar but you do you, and use what you have on-hand), add some butter, cream cheese and flour, process it all together and chill. Slice it up, bake it, and voila! Best thing to happen to cheese since ... milk.
This recipe doubles easily. Depending on the capacity of your mixer and space you have available in your freezer, you could even triple it. Why, you may ask, would you want to do that? Well, mostly because they will be gobbled up, and also because they freeze well once baked so you can have your midnight nibbles.
Note: I often will sub in 1 T cream cheese for 1 T of butter for every cup of butter used. Why? Partly because the moisture level in the local butter is a bit wonky, often negatively impacting my finished recipe, and partly because the added cream cheese will add a subtle ‘cultured’ taste, mimicking how European butters might taste. My boys prefer it, but obviously not a requirement.
Harissa & Cheese Crackers
makes about 30
4 oz (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature (sub in 1 T cream cheese)
½ pound cheese, grated (cheddar, comte, gruyere ... use your favorite)
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 T harissa paste
Flaked sea salt, Aleppo pepper flakes or ground fresh pepper
1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, place the butter, (+ cream cheese), cheese, all of the flour, the harissa and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Add 1½ tablespoons water and mix on low speed to combine the ingredients. Turn the mixer to medium and beat for 30 seconds, until the ingredients come together in big clumps.
2. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured cutting board and roll it into a log 1½ inches wide and however long. If you've double or tripled the recipe, you can wrap them in shorter lengths, but try to get the diameter of the logs about the same. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. (You can refrigerate the dough for several days or freeze it for up to 4 months.)
3. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375°F.
4. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper. Slice the dough ½ inch thick and place the rounds 1 inch apart on the parchment paper. Sprinkle with sea salt/Aleppo/pepper and bake for 15 to 17 minutes, until golden brown. Cool on the sheet pans or a baking rack and serve at room temperature.