Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Graham Crackers

I just discovered Graham Crackers.  I know that seems like a strange thing in your 40's to discover but I never thought I liked them.  My mother occasionally sandwiched peanut butter in between the crackers as a last resort snack but other than that they were not part of my lexicon. 

I made a cheesecake a few weeks ago and usually I make it with a Ginger Snap crust (because I don't like Graham Crackers...) but the person for whom I was making the cheesecake requested Graham Crackers.  I made the crust and had half a box left over.  Hungry, while binge watching House of Cards, I routed through my cupboard for anything that could pass as dessert and came across the half box of unappealing Graham Crackers.  HOLY COW - I LOVE THEM!  Now I am obsessed with the darn things!  I have begun tasting different brands to see which ones I like best.  I have had them in my lunch as a snack everyday for two weeks because I can't wait until I get home to have one.  Saturday, I was running errands and I put a few in my purse as a safety measure just in case I was stranded in the Lowe's parking lot and couldn't find my way out.
It's bad.  Very bad.

Kind of the best part is that they are almost a health food.  Most of the time they are made with whole wheat flour and honey.  In fact, Sylvester Graham, from whom they derive their name, was a minister in the 19th century and an early whole grain supporter.  Technically, Graham Flour is whole wheat flour not ground as finely.  So you have whole wheat = good, honey = good, cinnamon (anti-inflammatory) = good, sugar = bad but could be worse, and that's about it! 

Tonight in honor of you (and really me :)) I am making homemade Graham Crackers!  I am using Alton Brown's recipe because he has undoubtedly exhausted every possible outcome of a sub-standard cracker and why put myself through some kind of test he has already passed. 
  • 8 3/8 ounces graham flour
  • 1 7/8 ounces all-purpose flour
  • 3 ounces dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 ounces unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes and chilled
  • 2 1/4 ounces molasses
  • 1 1/2 ounces whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Place both flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon into the bowl of a food processor and pulse several times to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles cornmeal. Add the molasses, milk and vanilla extract and process until the dough forms a ball, approximately 1 minute. Press the ball into a 1/2-inch thick disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Unwrap the chilled dough and place it onto a large piece of parchment paper and top with a second sheet of parchment paper. Roll the dough out until it is 1/8-inch thick. Slide the rolled dough and parchment paper onto a half sheet pan. Remove the top sheet of parchment paper and cut the dough, using a rolling pizza cutter into 2-inch square pieces, by making vertical and then horizontal cuts all the way across the dough. Trim off any excess. Using a fork, poke holes all over the top of the dough. Leave the crackers on the pan and bake on the middle rack of the oven for 25 minutes or until the edges just start to darken. Remove from the oven, set the sheet pan with the crackers on a cooling rack and allow to cool completely. Once completely cool, break into individual crackers and store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

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