I always struggle when it comes to the appetizer department. There are vegetable spreads and mini quiches and spicy dips and things that have tomatoes in them and none of these things sound very appetizing (ba dum chh) to me. I need simplicity. Cheese and crackers. Chips (without dip). Things that don’t make my taste buds explode. Things that are simple to snack on without ruining a meal.
So when I when I was trying to come up with something for my friend Sarah’s shower that wasn’t sweet but that wouldn’t be entirely overshadowed by the chocolate truffles and the cookies, I thought that these crackers would be perfect. Crowd pleasing in a crowd that includes myself.
But it took a bit of work to get there. With the first batch of crackers I made, the dough was dry and crumbly and I knew that we were headed in a bad direction. I managed to squish it in to a shape resembling a log (although it was more like a very long rectangle), and I thought that surely once it spent its time in the freezer, it would meld together and be easy to slice and they would bake off fine.
I let them sit in the freezer for 2 days before I baked them (a great thing about making these crackers), but when I pulled them out they were entirely too hard to cut through. So I let the dough sit at room temperature for a few minutes, and when I came back to cut them they sliced much more easily, but they still tended to crumble apart. But I was determined, even though I was sure it was all going to be a failure, and I squished them together again and put them in the oven. When they came out I took one bite and almost had to spit it out. They were dry and had too strong of a flavor and left my mouth feeling mealy. And that is why it was my first batch, as opposed to the only one.
So I made the dough again, only this time I got online and found that a lot of people were having success adding a bit of water. I have got to learn to read recipe reviews more consistently. But in cases like this I watch Ina make them on her show and they come out perfectly, so she must know all the secrets, right? Well, in this case they definitely need water and she had definitely included that. Must be that air in The Hamptons. It is absolutely amazing what a bit of water did for these crackers. It took them from mealy and dry to buttery and tender. They are type of crackers that melt in your mouth from the cheese and butter, but still manage not to feel too heavy.
Everyone loved them. Including me.
Parmesan Thyme Crackers
adapted from Ina Garten
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Wait Time: 35 minutes
Bake Time: 22 minutes
Makes about 30 crackers
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
7 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese *
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons water
1. In a medium sized bowl, cream butter until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes.
2. Add Parmesan, flour, salt, thyme, pepper, and water. Mix until formed into a dough. The dough may still be slightly crumbly, and this is fine. But if it is too crumbly, add more water a little at a time.
3. Dump dough out onto a lightly floured board and roll it into a log that is about an inch and a half in diameter. Wrap the log in plastic wrap and place in the freezer for at least 30 minutes (or overnight).
4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
5. Take dough out of freezer, and let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes before cutting. Slice the log into crackers that are 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick and place them on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper.
6. Bake for 22 minutes.
* Again with the not having a kitchen scale. The recipe called for 3 ounces, so after doing a little measurement conversion research, I decided to round it to 7 tablespoons which seemed to work.