Why It Works
- Finely grating cheddar cheese increases its surface area so that it serves as a "dry" ingredient in the dough.
- Cream is uniquely high in lactose, helping the crackers brown and grow more flavorful as they bake.
- Kneading the dough helps make for crisp rather than crumbly crackers.
Because they incorporate cream instead of the more common butter, these homemade crackers brown more flavorfully as they bake, creating a deep, nutty, grilled cheese sort of vibe. This recipe works well with sharp yellow cheddars, like Tillamook and Cabot, but if you're looking for a change of pace, Manchego works well, too. Eat 'em out of hand, or serve with hearty soups, stews, and chilis.
- For the Dough:
- 6 3/4 ounces all-purpose flour (1 1/3 cups; 190g), plus more for dusting
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons (6g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use half as much by volume or use the same weight
- 1 (8-ounce; 227g) block cheddar cheese, preferably sharp and yellow, grated finely (see note)
- 8 ounces heavy cream (1 cup; 225g)
- For the Egg Wash:
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1/2 ounce water (1 tablespoon; 15g)
- 1/4 teaspoon (1g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
For the Dough: Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 375°F (190°C). Whisk flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt together in a medium bowl. Toss cheddar with dry ingredients until well combined. Stir in cream, mixing with a flexible spatula until dough comes together. Transfer to a lightly floured surface, knead until pliable and smooth, then divide in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll each portion into a roughly 15- by 11-inch rectangle, no more than 1/8-inch thick. Transfer each to a parchment-lined half sheet pan, then cut into 1-inch squares using a fluted pastry wheel.
For the Egg Wash: Whisk egg, yolk, water, and salt together in a small bowl. Brush over prepared dough, then sprinkle with additional salt to taste. Using a bamboo skewer or chopstick, press a small indentation into the center of each dough square. (This is strictly for a Cheez-It look and is therefore optional.) Bake until golden brown, about 24 minutes. Cool to room temperature and enjoy immediately, or store up to 1 month in an airtight container at room temperature.
Parmesan grater or Microplane, 2 half sheet pans, rolling pin, fluted pastry wheel, pastry brush, bamboo skewer or chopstick
Use a fine, Parmesan-style grater for the cheese. I love Microplane's fine grater because it's extra wide, making quick work of the cheese.