Herb and Pecorino Cheese Crackers
Despite the name, these treats more closely resemble a savory shortbread cookie than a cracker. They are buttery, crumbly and absolutely delicious.
Regardless of what you call them, they are packed with flavor. Using a melon baller, I created a small cavity in the center of each cracker, which I filled with a savory pecorino basil pesto.
Pecorino, rosemary and thyme are not subtle ingredients, so serve this with a mild, creamy cheese at your next dinner party.
Yields: 60 mini crackers16 tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup goat ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 sprig fresh rosemary
3 sprigs thyme
1 cup Pecorino cheese (about 3 ounces), freshly shredded
3/4 teaspoon fleur de sel (or regular salt)
1/3 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup pecorino basil pesto (see tip section for the recipe)
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Stem and finely chop the rosemary and thyme (I used red creeping thyme from the garden). Make sure the rosemary is finely chopped; you don't want any long pieces of rosemary because it could be very unpleasant. Gather about 2 teaspoons of herbs. Set aside.
In a bowl, combine and sift both flours. Set aside.
In a stand mixer, using the dough paddle attachment, cream the butter with garlic powder, salt, pepper and herbs. Add the goat ricotta cheese and sifted flours. Manually add the Pecorino cheese. Blend well. The cracker dough should be thick, crumbly and sandy.
Form several round (1-1/2-inch to 2-inch diameter) logs of cracker dough and wrap them in plastic wrap. Chill them in the freezer until firm. It will take at least 20-30 minutes. Slice the logs into ½-inch thick discs. Press the center of the cookie using a melon baller or any small spoon. Spoon about 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon of pecorino-basil pesto (see tips) on each cracker.
Place the crackers on several (I used 4) non-stick baking sheets (or regular sheets lined with a silicon mat). Make sure they are spaced out so they don't touch each other. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let the crackers cool completely to room temperature before taking them off the baking sheets. They will harden and get firm as they cool.
Serve them accompanied with a cheese platter and decorate with a few fresh sprigs of rosemary and thyme.
I bought goat ricotta cheese at a local store, called the Milk Pail Market. The address is 2585 California Street, Mountain View, CA 94040, but you can also order it online. If you can't find it, simply substitute regular cow's ricotta cheese. I think goat ricotta cheese blends very well with the herbs.
For the pecorino basil pesto: In a mini-blender, combine 1 cup of (10-second blanched) sweet basil, 1 clove of garlic, 4 tablespoons of (toasted) pine nuts and 4 tablespoons of Pecorino cheese. Pulse and add about 1/3 cup (or more) of olive oil until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
I used the extra pesto and goat ricotta cheese to make savory goat ricotta cheese puffs.
Sifting dry ingredients helps get rid of nasty lumps of flour and also to aerate the mixture when liquid is added. It's very important for all of your baking so you get a flaky result.
To guarantee quality baked goods, use the best butter you can find.
For a more creative version, you can also roll the dough into a 1/2-inch thick sheet and cut the dough using a cookie cutter.
These savory crackers are easy to make and you can freeze logs of the cracker dough in advance for quick baking when you're in a hurry.Published By: on November 3, 2009.