A cracker is just a cracker until it is a Savory Cheese Biscuit with Paprika & Red Pepper. I live in a neighborhood with at least six fantastic gourmet shops and farmers' markets and have yet to find a packaged cracker that tastes as good as these. In fact, it would be hard to qualify these as crackers, they are more like a savory short bread with a pecan pressed on the top. We love to snack on them at home on any given day, especially my daughter, who likens them to her favorite goldfish cracker snack.
As you can probably tell, I've had entertaining on my mind lately. It seems that every time I Naptime Chef these days I am working on something that I can take to a friend's house, serve to dinner guests or stash in the freezer for later. When I made these last week during a visit with my parents in Cooperstown I gave half the batch to my friend Gillian to serve at her Halloween party. They looked perfect on her buffet table - which I should mention was so well done it made Martha look boring - their orange hue and brown toasted pecans fit right in with the festive decor.
I've made these cheese biscuits probably a dozen times this fall and they never fail to please. Sometimes I serve them on a platter, like Gillian did, or on the side of a green salad. They straddle the line perfectly between buttery biscuit and savory cracker, making them incredibly versatile for serving. My daughter is also living proof that they are popular with little one's, though she usually removes the pecan. When she took a bite of my latest batch she looked at me and said, "mmm, Mommy, yummy goldfish." I realized she had correctly identified the rich cheese taste as being similar to those found those tiny Pepperidge Farm Crackers. She is not far off, there are similarities here, only that these biscuits have a slightly more adult flavor.
With buttery texture reminiscent of shortbread, and an intense cheese taste shot through with a touch of heat from the paprika and red pepper, these are guaranteed to please even the pickiest of cracker critics. The best part for me is that making them is incredibly easy. I shred the cheese and mix up the batter while my daughter naps. Then I leave the dough to chill, rolled in log formation, in the fridge until she goes to bed. Once she is sawing the zzz's that evening, I simply slice and bake them so that they are ready for the next day! Sometimes, in the interest of serving them warm, I prepare the batter a day or two ahead of time and bake them right before the guests arrive. No matter how they are served, these are always a delicious addition to any affair.
Savory Cheese Biscuits with Paprika & Red Pepper
adapted from a recipe from my friend Nicole
1 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
2 c. grated sharp cheddar cheese
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 t. coarse salt
1 t. paprika
1 generous pinch of red pepper
1 1/2 c. pecans, roughly (allot one half per biscuit)
1. Cream together butter and cheese until well-combined. In a separate bowl mix together flour, salt, paprika and red pepper. Whisk ingredients together.
2. With the mixer on low, or by hand, add flour to butter and cheese mixture. Mix until everything is combined. The batter will be a little nubbly, but that is OK.
3. Lightly flour a surface on your kitchen counter. Shape the cheese dough into a roll about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. You can make 1 long roll, or several shorter rolls, whichever is easier for storing in the fridge.
3. Wrap rolls in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours, or up to overnight.
4. Preheat oven to 350.
5. Remove plastic wrap and slice dough into 1/4 inch thick disks. Line them up on a baking sheet lined with Silpat. Press a pecan half into each biscuit.
6. Bake for 15 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.
Recipe Props: Making these biscuits is a cinch for even the busiest cooks. Slice and bake is a wonderful way to make crackers or cookies because it doesn't include any of the messiness of ice-cream scoops or rounded teaspoons.
Naptime Stopwatch: I am able to mix up this batter in about 5 minutes, then it is just a matter of waiting while they bake a few hours later.
Naptime Reviews: These crackers are great for children and adults. In many ways they are liked a grown-up goldfish cracker, just as my daughter noted.