I love appetizers. I like standing around the table, picking up small handfuls of grapes, raiding the cheese trays, and eating all the sliced apples. It stems from my love of snacking. It’s a problem, but admitting that in no way compels me to reform. If I had my way, lunch would always consist of a large tray of various cheeses, olives, apples, grapes, and warm baguettes. Throw in a big sweater and an old book and oh my goodness - totally idyll.
The great thing about snacking is that no one (including you, thank goodness) can keep track of exactly how much you are eating. The wheel of brie disappears and no one in particular is to blame. It just disappeared when half a dozen people were standing around the appetizer table. That’s a good thing when you consume brie at the rate that I do.
A mid-afternoon snack craving inspired these crackers. Here’s what happened. I was with my sister, (that line is always a warning that ridiculous and fattening things will follow), when she whipped out a bag of cheddar and caramel popcorn. What? Too weird. I’m definitely not trying that…well, maybe a little bit.
“That's disgustin - wait… I’m going to marry this stuff! Give me that bag!” And that’s how it all went down.
Fast forward to the next afternoon when the popcorn was gone but the cravings were strong, and I started contemplating how I could recreate the enigmatic yet addicting snack. Of course, I could make my own cheesey popcorn, but then I would need to dehydrate cheddar and make it into a powder and yeah -- I was not going to go there.
However, crackers were a reasonable option. That would take care of the cheddar element. The caramel, however, stumped me at first. Then I remembered burnt sugar and I knew good things were about to happen.
Making your own crackers is not hard! Can you make shortbread? Then you can make crackers, I promise. The hardest part is not eating them all.
After the crackers cool a bit they are drizzled with a heavy dose of sticky, golden burnt sugar.
Burnt sugar is just what it says, burnt sugar. Not super burnt, but just brown enough to give us that caramel flavor and a touch of sweetness.
I paired these crackers with some crisp apple slices and it was a perfectly balanced snack tray. Think of the crackers as the cheese and the burnt sugar as the honey. It’s weird but it really works.
Snack lunching it up in here.
White Cheddar & Burnt Sugar Crackers
makes about 70 crackers / recipe adapted from Joy the Baker
for the crackers
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 2 cups sharp white cheddar, grated
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons cold water
In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment combine butter, salt and white cheddar. Mix on low speed for 1-2 minutes, the mixture will begin to form a ball. While continuing to mix on low speed, slowly add flour in increments until all the flour has been worked in. Add water, one teaspoon at a time. Add just enough water to form a rough dough, you may not need the full amount or you may need a little extra, depending on the humidity. The dough should not be wet or sticky, just moist.
Shape the dough into two discs and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
While the dough chills preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
Turn the chilled dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll out to an 1/8 of an inch in thickness. Use a 1-inch round cookie cutter to cut out the crackers. Use the end of a skewer to make several indentations into the center of each cracker.
Place the crackers on a baking sheet lined with parchment, spacing them about 1/4 inch apart, and bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden and fragrant. Allow to cool for 15-20 minutes. While the crackers are cooling, prepare the burnt sugar.
for the burnt sugar
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup water
In a small saucepan combine sugar and water and place over medium high heat. Stir several times and then fit the pan with a candy thermometer and allow to cook, without stirring, until the mixture reaches 300 degrees.
Remove from heat and drizzle the burn sugar over the cooled crackers with a fork. Work carefully and quickly, as the sugar with set up rapidly as it cools.
Allow the crackers to sit for about 10 minutes before eating - this will allow the sugar to fully set.
Serve immediately or store in airtight containers for several days. Enjoy!