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Cranberry Cayenne Cracker

Impress your Valentine, or guests at a Valentine party, with this simple but sophisticated cracker.  Like the old southern classic, cheese straws, there is something about a home-made cracker that adds elegance to your luncheon or cocktail buffet.

This recipe was given to me by my friend Rosemary Davenport.  Rosemary is a natural-born entertainer and everything she does delights her guests. I made the cracker for a Valentine luncheon and everyone wanted the recipe. 

Flecks of red from chopped, plumped cranberries made the cracker a perfect choice for  Valentine’s.  

Cranberry Cayenne Crackers

Ingredients:

     1 1/2 cups chopped pecans*
     1 1/2 cups chopped sweetened dried cranberries
     2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
     1 1/2 teaspoon salt (little less if using salted pecans)
     1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
     4 cups extra sharp Cheddar cheese, freshly shredded
     4 cups all-purpose flour

Directions:

Toast pecans on a dry frying pan or single layer in a shallow pan in the oven until fragrant.  Be careful not to burn the pecans as they will become bitter.  Set aside until completely cooled. To omit this step, I purchased dry, roasted and toasted pecans halves at Trader Joe’s and gave them a quick, coarse chop.

Soak the cranberries in boiling water for about 15 minutes.  Drain, pat dry with a paper towel and cooI before adding them to the mixture.

In a bowl, beat softened butter, salt and cayenne pepper.  Add cheese and blend until creamy.  Again, to simplify and save time, I purchased finely shredded, sharp cheddar rather than grating the cheese myself. Gradually add flour, mixing just until combined.

Stir in cranberries and pecans.  Divide the dough into 4 pieces and roll each piece to form a log approximately 2” in diameter.  Wrap the logs in plastic wrap or wax paper and chill overnight.

Pre-heat oven to 350. Remove the cheese logs from the refrigerator and cut into 1/4” discs.  Place the discs onto a baking pan lined with a Silpat or parchment paper. Bake 13 – 15 minutes or until lightly browned.  Remove from baking sheets and cool on wire rack.  Store the wafers in an airtight container.

I halved the recipe and it still yielded about 4 dozen crackers.

Even with the couple of small tweaks that I made, the result passed the taste test with flying colors.  Everyone wanted more crackers and the recipe.

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