Sunday, April 7, 2013

Homemade Cheez-its

Makes about 1 quart

3 T boiling water
1 T annatto seeds (optional), coarsely ground
6 ounces (1½ cups) finely grated sharp cheddar cheese
4 T (2 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons (3¼ ounces) all-purpose flour
2 T cornstarch

If using annatto, combine water and annatto seeds. Let steep for 5 minutes. Strain and discard seeds. Put annatto seed water in ice bath until cool.

Using stand mixer fitted with a paddle, combine cheese, butter, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper until combined and starting to stick to sides of mixing bowl, about 30 seconds. Add flour and cornstarch and mix until combined, about 1 minute. Add 2 tablespoons of annatto seed water or plain cool water and mix until dough ball forms, about 10 seconds. Add remaining 1 tablespoon water if needed. Transfer dough to floured counter and flatten into a disk. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes.

Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

Unwrap dough onto well floured counter and roll to 1/16 inch thickness. Cut into 1-inch squares. Using the blunt end of a skewer, poke a hole in the center of each square. Transfer to baking sheets. Sprinkle with remaining ½ teaspoon salt. Bake until light golden around edges, about 18 minutes, switching and rotating sheets halfway through baking. Let cool completely on baking sheets. (Crackers can be stored in airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days).

Notes: These baked up crispy and very tasty, if a tad greasy. My crackers were plenty orange without the annatto. Make sure you roll these quite thin (the dough should be translucent) as they rise about 4x in the oven. I did one pan where I spread the crakers out a bit, and one where they were left next to each other on the baking mat. The former baked up crisper.

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