About a year ago I attended a Wine and Cheese Party that was actually a birthday party for two friends who had birthdays within the same week. It was a great idea to combine the birthday party with a wine tasting and of course I had to bring along some cheese. I also decided to give the following recipe a try and took a batch of these crackers along for the party. I am not kidding when I say every single cracker was eaten by the end of the night and I have been making these crackers ever since. I am a big fan of Ina Garten better known as “The Barefoot Contessa” and this recipe is from her latest book “Back to Basics”. The secret to this recipe is to use the good stuff. Real Parmesan Reggiano is an absolute must here in my humble opinion. If you use the stuff in the “green can”, I cannot be responsible for the results! Let’s just say that the Parmesan Reggiano makes a huge difference.
I write in my cookbooks all the time. I always have. How about you? I like to write in the date that I made the recipe, and I like to jot down anything special that I might have done or any substitutes I might have made. And I like to include any other details about why I was making the recipe. Was it for a party? Did every one like it? Did one of the kids help me make it? I have a lot of cookie recipes with little notes about the kids helping me. Lots of drips and smudge marks too. :)
Parmesan And Thyme Crackers
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature (I used salted butter)
4 ounces freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 cup) (Use a Microplane Grater if you have it, it gets the cheese nice and fine and fluffy.)
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves ( I used about 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme and rubbed the leaves together to crumble them up)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter for 1 minute. With the mixer on low speed, add the Parmesan, thyme, salt, and pepper and combine. With the mixer still on low, add the flour and combine until the mixture is in large crumbles, about 1 minute. If the dough is too dry, add 1 teaspoon of water. ( I had to add several teaspoons of water to get a workable dough. Be sure to mix after each water addition. You do not want to add too much.)
Dump the dough onto a floured board, press it into a ball, and roll into a 9 inch log. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or for up to 4 days. (You can also freeze the log at this point and bake them at a later date. Just defrost overnight in the refrigerator and then slice and bake them when you are ready to serve.)
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the log into 3/8 inch thick rounds with a small, sharp knife and place them on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper (I used foil). Bake for 22 minutes, until very lightly browned. Rotate the pan once during the baking. Cool and serve at room temperature. Makes about 24 crackers.
These crackers would be just the thing to help you ring in the New Year. And if you have any leftover from the party, which is hard for me to imagine, these freeze really well even after they are baked. They are a handy thing to have on hand when you want to have something to nibble on while enjoying a glass of wine. Just pull a few out of the freezer and pour. You won’t believe how deep the flavor is. You will actually “nibble” on these because they are so rich. They kind of melt in your mouth and just one or two will do the trick. Enjoy! (Thanks Ina!)
And Thanks to Kelly over at Dare to Be Domestic for the great new wine suggestion. I found us a bottle when out shopping and I have to say that we are liking the Gnarly Head!! Cheers!