It's always more fun to DIY. Every week, we'll spare you a trip to the grocery store and show you how to make small batches of great foods at home.
It's a question as old as the chicken-and-egg paradox: are graham crackers crackers, or are they cookies?
Graham crackers were invented by Sylvester Graham, a 19th century minister who promoted a healthy, even ascetic, lifestyle. To reform Americans' bad eating habits, Graham prescribed bland, whole wheat, unsweetened crackers. Which puts them squarely in the cracker camp. Possibly also in the cardboard camp.
Since those early days, Grahams have evolved into a sweetened, crumbly cracker-cookie that are rarely made with graham flour. On their own, they’re still the healthy-ish foundation of many a kindergarten snack, but we know the best way to eat them: slathered with peanut butter, crumbled into a crust, or topped with chocolate and toasted marshmallows.
More: We've got some good news. You don't need a campfire to make your own s'mores.
My grahams are all cookie. It started with my grandmother, whom I used to visit in Florida every December. She was convinced that I needed to drink a full glass of milk every day, and was not above bribery to make it happen. Within minutes of my coming back from the beach each afternoon, sitting on the kitchen table was a very full glass and a pair of chocolate covered grahams. No milk, no cookies.
Now that I have my own kitchen, I make my own chocolate-covered grahams. I like the nutty feel-good-ness that graham flour gives, and I appreciate the ability to choose the level of sweetness that I want. While they take some time to make at home, these grahams are fun, delicious, and they make great gifts.
Makes more than 3 dozen crackers
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups graham flour
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
5 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons molasses and/or honey
2 tablespoons milk (whole or low-fat)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 to 1/2 pound dark or milk chocolate
Cut butter into chunks and chill in the freezer for about 10 minutes. In the meantime, combine the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in the bowl of a food processor. Add the now-cold butter and pulse a few times until the mixture looks like coarse cornmeal. Add honey or molasses (or both!), milk, and vanilla extract and process for about a minute until the dough comes together in a ball.
Chill the dough for 30 minutes and preheat your oven to 350° F. When the dough is cold, roll it out between two sheets of parchment paper and transfer to a baking sheet. Cut the dough into squares or rectangles -- I use a pizza cutter -- and then prick all over with a fork. Do not trim the excess.
Bake for 25 minutes until the outer edges start to darken. Remove from the oven and let the entire tray cool completely, about 20 to 30 minutes. Don’t try to separate the crackers until they are fully cooled or they will crumble.
Once the crackers are cool, snap them apart. Eat the edges as a reward for all your hard work.
While the cookies are cooling, temper your chocolate.
Place the crackers on a cooling rack and drizzle with chocolate. Don't forget to place the cooling rack over parchment paper to catch the drips. Allow the chocolate to harden.
Or, dip the crackers halfway (or all the way!) into the chocolate and lay them directly on parchment paper while the chocolate hardens.
Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks. For longer storage, freeze the plain graham crackers and add the chocolate when you’re ready to eat.
Photos by Gayle Squires.