Cheddar Cheese Crackers
I'm an avid fan of Ann of Thibeault's Table. Really, have you ever seen her photos? Magazine quality all of them. And her food...well, let me tell you, I drool every time I visit there. I've had this recipe bookmarked almost a year, waiting for an occasion worthy enough to make them, and they were worth the wait. These worked up so easily, I'm not going to wait another year to make them. I made the dough up ahead of time, wrapped in waxed paper and wrapped again in aluminum foil. I double the batch and made four rolls of dough, squaring off the edges. These aren't crispy like Cheese Nips, for example, more cookie-ish in texture, but perhaps it's because they were frozen and defrosted.
Cheddar Cheese Crackers
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup butter
3/4 cup grated aged cheddar cheese
freshly ground black pepper (a couple of good twists)
cayenne pepper (about a 1/4 teaspoon)
mustard powder (about a 1/4 teaspoon)
4-6 tablespoons cold water as needed to make the dough come to a ball
Heat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
Mix by hand or add flour and butter to food processor and pulse to cut in butter. Add seasonings and pulse until just before dough comes together. Add cheddar cheese and pulse again; add water one tablespoon at a time, processing in between until dough leaves the side of the processor bowl. Roll dough out to desired thickness. about 1/8" for crackers, 1/4" for cookies.
Cut into squares or rounds. Bake until golden approximately 15 minutes. (I turned mine over partway through baking to brown both sides of the cracker.)
Makes about 3 dozen crackers.
Cheddar Cheese Thumbprints with Hot Pepper Jelly
Now this is another keeper recipe from Megan's Cookin'. I swear, I just love her cookin'! The minute I saw these I knew I had to try them. I didn't get to try one of these, a fact which greatly aggrieves me, but I know that those who tried them loved them. I made two different flavors for the center, sweet hot red pepper jelly (but I bought that jelly) and I made an apple-jalapeno jelly, which is a long time favorite of mine.
Cheddar Thumbprints with Hot Pepper Jelly
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
6 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1 cup flour
1/3 cup hot pepper jelly
Place cheese and butter in a food processor; add flour and process until the mixture forms a soft dough. Gather up the dough and divide into two flat disks. Wrap in wax paper and freeze until chilled, about 45 minutes.
Preheat to 400° Fahrenheit.
Using 1 teaspoon dough for each, roll the dough into small balls and place 1 inch apart on parchment-lined sheets. Bake 5 minutes. Remove from the oven. Using the handle of a wooden spoon, poke an indentation in each cookie. Place 1/4 teaspoon of the jelly in each indentation, or enough to fill.
Return to the oven and bake, switching the positions of the sheets from top to bottom halfway through baking, until the tops are very lightly browned, about 10 minutes. (Cookies will continue to crisp as they cool.) Transfer to racks and cool completely. Recipe makes about 20 cookies.
Can be baked up to two days ahead. Store at room temperature in an airtight container and separate layers with wax paper.
I used this jelly to fill a second batch of the cheddar thumbprints, above. I had visions of drippy jelly on dress clothes, so I chose not to use it as a dip this time. However, the first time I had this jelly, it was served on cream cheese and buttery crackers and it is delicious!
You can make the jelly hotter by leaving in some (or all if you really love hot stuff!) of the jalapeno seeds. I think I probably left in about one-quarter of the seeds and it was plenty spicy hot for me. And remember to wear gloves when working with jalapenos. I didn't and my hands burned for several hours afterwards. Not fun!
Jalapeno Apple Jelly
5 cups sugar
2 cups water
8 large tart apples -- chopped (I always use Granny Smiths)
15 whole jalapeno -- chopped (and seeded, if desired)
Pour sugar into a heavy 5 quart pot; stir in water until well blended. Bring mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring often. Reduce heat to medium and cook, uncovered, for 10 to 15 minutes.
Pare and core apples; cut into small chunks, to make about 8 cups.Thinly slice or chop the peppers. Add apples and peppers to sugar-water mixture. Cook (boiling gently) over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 35 to 40 minutes or until preserve is thickened and apples are translucent.
Meanwhile, prepare 6 half-pint canning jars (sterilize according to standard canning directions). Fill jars to within 1/8 inch of rim. Wipe clean and place lids and rings on screwing on as tight as comfortable. Let cool on a towel out of a draft; then press lids with your finger. If they stay down, they're sealed. Label and store in a cool, dark area. If not sealed, store in refrigerator.
Makes 6 half pints