No. 162: Homemade Cheez-Its

Mr. McCormick loves Cheez-Its.

And Wheat Thins. Really, all crackers. But Cheez-Its are his first love.

I didn't grow up with Cheez-Its in the house, and I'm still a bit shocked when I see that nuclear orange color come out on a plate. It's visually arresting; and not in a good way.

I'm all for recreating classic snacks at home. Last year I experimented with homemade crackers and had a lot of fun making a few different batches.

With that success under my belt I wanted to try Mr. McC's favorite snack. I found a promising recipe on Food52.

Ingredients

Makes approximately 120 one-inch crackers

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out the dough
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup vegetable oil

To make

In a food processor, pulse the flour, baking powder, salt, and paprika together 3 to 5 times, until just combined. Add the cheddar cheese and pulse 15 to 20 times, or until the cheese is finely chopped.

With the motor running, slowly pour in the vegetable oil and continue to process just until all the oil is incorporated.

Wrap the dough in plastic, shaping it into a disk. Freeze for 2 hours, or until the dough just gives when pressed but holds its shape when picked up.

Frozen disk

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Unwrap the dough and divide in two equal pieces. Place half of the dough on a piece of parchment paper and shape into a rectangle with your hands. Lightly sprinkle the top of the dough with flour and roll out, keeping the rectangle shape, to a thickness of just under 1/4 inch.

Using a pizza cutter or metal bench scraper, cut the dough into 1-inch squares. Transfer the squares on the parchment to the prepared baking sheet and carefully separate them, spacing them evenly, about 1 inch apart. Repeat with the second batch of dough.

Squares to bake

(Some of the edges were a bit crumbly, but they were easy to roll to 1/4 inch.)

Bake the squares for 7 to 9 minutes, or until the crackers are golden and the edges are beginning to brown. Cool completely on wire racks. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

The results

I've been pretty lucky so far in this grand experiment of new recipes. Most have been successful, with only a few recipe duds (don't bother to make this one) or big mistakes on my part (pizza crust, anyone?).

But these Cheez-Its. Sigh. Disaster.

Final Cheez-Its

They tasted like cookies made from vegetable oil and flour. There was barely a hint of cheese to be found, despite the 3 cups of shredded cheddar that took forever to grate. The consistency was also awfully crumbly.

I probably should have seen it coming. The comments section on this recipe had mixed reviews to begin with and lots of questions - I wasn't alone.

If you find a better homemade version, send it my way! Until then, I'll be buying Mr. McC the neon orange, processed kind of Cheez-It and tossing these in the trash.

Now, on to better recipes!

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Send me your thoughts, comments and ideas at theresolvedcook@gmail.com