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
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
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.