Several years ago, I made a terrific blue cheese shortbread to take to a gathering, but I didn’t write down the recipe and haven’t found one on the web that seems like it, but I keep looking. I’m sure I’ll just improvise on a basic shortbread recipe someday, but today I’m making crackers by adding cheese to basic pie crust dough. Adding cheese surely changes up the results you would get if you just baked pie crust cutouts, because cheese is another fat and you already have butter in the dough. I’m not sure how that will work. Then, I’m going to add cream instead of water to the dough, just because I have some on hand and it will add another layer of richness. What I’m hoping for is a rich, flaky pie crust texture that is a little more tender than crisp. As usual, this is a test.
I started with Michael Ruhlman’s basic 3-2-1 pie crust, substituting cream for water and adding cheese without taking any of the butter out.
The results? Salty, buttery, cheesy, flaky, tender. Very nice.
Parmesan Crackers from Pie Crust
12 oz all purpose flour (weighed in at about 2 1/3 cups today)
3/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, finely grated
2 sticks (1 cup) butter, cut in small dice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, coarsely ground
1/4-1/3 cup heavy cream
sea salt for topping
I made the dough in a food processor. Preheat oven to 400° when you take the dough out of the refrigerator.
- Place flour, salt, pepper, and cheese in food processor, pulsing briefly to mix.
- Add butter and process until combined. I processed it until the butter was cut into a small grain size, but I’m sure you could pulse it to have larger chunks of butter. My thinking was that I wanted a more uniform rising in the crackers. Even with all that processing, the crackers are still very tender and flaky.
- Add the cream, or whatever liquid you decide to use, through the processor chute while processing, until the dough begins to form a ball. I think you want a dough that holds together a little better than some crumbly pie doughs, but that’s always my preference. I don’t have any trouble working with a moist dough, as long as it’s not sticky.
- Scrape out the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap, shape into a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick. Wrap completely and refrigerate for at least 1/2 hour.
- Remove chilled dough to a lightly floured surface and roll out to about 1/8 inch—the crackers will rise quite a bit, to 1/4 inch. I tried to roll out my dough evenly, but didn’t. Don’t obsess over it.
- Rolled dough can be cut with cookie cutters or with a pizza cutter or crimping tool. I used cutters for the rounds and a pizza wheel for the squares (they’re kinda square, anyway).
- Place cut dough on baking sheet lined with parchment. You can make a design in the crackers with a fork or the point of a skewer.
- Sprinkle with sea salt or some other topping that won’t burn in the 10-12 minutes of baking.
- Bake at 400° for 10-12 minutes. Cool on pan for a few minutes before removing to rack to cool completely.
I’m very happy with the tender, flaky texture of these crackers. If I want a crisper cracker in the future, I might try leaving out most of the butter and using water instead of cream, but these are terrific.