Monday, February 7, 2011

Blue Cheese and Walnut Crackers

A few weeks ago, my mother in law gave me a 1 lb. tub of Amish Blue Cheese crumbles. While I've read conflicting reports about whether you can eat blue cheese or not when pregnant, it didn't even sound appetizing to me. So the cheese sat in the fridge for a couple of weeks, untouched. During my month-long stint watching Food Network and eating only bagels, I saw a holiday appetizer episode where Ina baked savory blue cheese shortbread crackers. The recipe called for 8 oz. of cheese, which I knew would make a substantial dent in the tub of crumbles, and it would cook the cheese so there wouldn't be the question of whether or not I could eat it. 

These crackers take very few ingredients, in fact I had all of the ingredients on hand last Saturday when I was cleaning out the fridge and came across the blue cheese hidden in the back. After making the dough, it needs to be formed into a log and chilled, so these crackers can be made ahead of time for a party, and kept in the freezer for slicing and baking at any time - even just for a snack! I was worried that the blue cheese would be too strong, or they would taste too much like a cookie gone bad, but they were outstanding! The bite of the blue cheese was dulled down, but still present, the nuts added a nice crunch, and the pepper reinforced the savory flavor. They were reminiscent of a cheese straw or a really fancy Cheez-It! 

As for the actual recipe, the only changes I made were subbing 1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour for 1/2 c. of the all purpose, and omitting an egg wash for adhering the nuts, I had no trouble getting them to stick when pressing firmly. While the crackers were exceptional on their own, I couldn't help but think some kind of dip, smear, or spread would pair with it, but I couldn't think of anything that wouldn't make these too heavy, or too overpowering. My husband said buffalo chicken dip... any ideas? 

Blue Cheese and Walnut Crackers

1/4 lb. (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
8 oz. blue cheese, at room temperature 
1 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1/2 c. chopped walnuts

In the bowl of a mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and blue cheese for 1 minutes, or until smooth.
With the mixer on low speed, add the flours, salt and pepper and mix until dough comes together, adding water 1 tsp. at a time if necessary (I added 2 tsp.)
Place a piece of plastic wrap on the counter, use a spatula to remove dough from the bowl and onto the saran wrap. 
Using your fingers, form into a log about 12" long and 2" wide, wrap tightly and place in the refrigerator until you're ready to bake the crackers, or double wrap in foil and freeze.
After at least 1 hour, preheat oven to 350*
Unwrap dough log and sprinkle walnuts around the log, turn the log and press down on the nuts to encase the surface.
Line a baking sheet with parchment, slice the dough into 1/4" rounds and place 1" apart on the baking sheet, you should get around 30-36 crackers.
Place the crackers in the oven and bake for 22-25 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through.
Using a spatula, place crackers on a wire cooling rack, and cool for at least an hour so crackers begin to harden. 
To store, place in an unsealed plastic bag or in an uncovered plastic storage container, sealing or covering will cause the crackers to soften, serve within a day or freeze baked crackers. 


Roxan said...

It's so amazing (and scary!) the list of foods a person can and can't eat while pregnant. I imagine it must be pretty stressful? I never would have thought of bleu cheese, but I guess it make sense when I think about it.
These cookies look amazing though, and I'm glad you found a way to be able to eat that delicious bleu cheese!

LauraJayne said...

I can pretty much eat Bleu Cheese with a spoon - so I can't wait to try these!

Cara said...

I made blue cheese crackers once and my hubs said they were like sophisticated cheezits. It really works!

Tasha said...

These sounds delicious, Ashlee! I love blue cheese and can only imagine how wonderful it would be in cracker form.

Joanne said...

I don't even eat blue cheese that much but I have a feeling that knowing that I CAN'T eat it while pregnant will make me want it even more! these crackers look fantastic. Glad you got around your restrictions!

Natalie said...

I'm obsessed with homemade crackers--recently made some cheddar sage ones that were amazing. These will be my next attempt!

Anonymous said...

I never thought of blue cheese, but I think this reason, when I think about it. These cookies brilliant, though, I'm glad you found a way to eat delicious blue cheese!

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