Cheez-Its

By • May 28, 2014 • 8 Comments

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Author Notes: I directly associate this snack with tomato soup, the perfect pairing throughout junior high, when consumed post-soccer practice in front of reruns of "The Rockford Files."
The dough for our recipe is prepared in a food processor because, as gail the baker explains, "the sharp blade and its fast rotation cuts the cheese into tiny bits quickly, dispersing them through the dough to promote a flakier texture." If you spooned these out into little balls, people would think they were a high-end cocktail snack. Cut into squares, with a neatness level that will depend on how compulsive you are, they are a bagged lunch treat completely loyal to the original. The paprika is responsible for the tang; the better the cheese you use, the sharper and more elegant the taste, yet they will still remain distinctly Cheez-It-esque.

Recipe excerpted from Treat Yourself: 70 Classic Snacks You Loved as a Kid (and Still Love Today) (Clarkson Potter, 2014).
Jestei

Makes approximately 120 one-inch crackers

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out the dough
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  1. In a food processor, pulse the flour, baking powder, salt, and paprika together 3 to 5 times, until just combined. Add the cheddar cheese and pulse 15 to 20 times, or until the cheese is finely chopped. With the motor running, slowly pour in the vegetable oil and continue to process just until all the oil is incorporated. Wrap the dough in plastic, shaping it into a disk. Freeze for 2 hours, or until the dough just gives when pressed but holds its shape when picked up.
  2. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  3. Unwrap the dough and divide in two equal pieces. Place half of the dough on a piece of parchment paper and shape into a rectangle with your hands. Lightly sprinkle the top of the dough with flour and roll out, keeping the rectangle shape, to a thickness of just under 1/4 inch. Using a pizza cutter or metal bench scraper, cut the dough into 1-inch squares. Transfer the squares on the parchment to the prepared baking sheet and carefully separate them, spacing them evenly, about 1 inch apart. Repeat with the second batch of dough.
  4. Bake the squares for 7 to 9 minutes, or until the crackers are golden and the edges are beginning to brown. Cool completely on wire racks. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
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3 months ago Summer

When I printed the recipe there was no information about how thick to roll the dough etc. What you've written above is much clearer and I believe will be much easier moving forward. I think the texture did catch me off guard as they were flakier than I'd anticipated but that might just be one of the qualities of these crackers!

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3 months ago Marian Bull

Marian is Food52's Associate Editor.

I'm so sorry! We had a small glitch in uploading the recipe; I hope that if you try it again, you like it even better. Keep us posted!

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3 months ago Summer

I tried this recipe last night and it didn't turn out exceptionally well for me. I got a little confused due to the missing step regarding the rolling process. I rolled the dough out cold but initially rolled it far too thin. I was thinking thinner = crispier but in this case it was just harder to work with and burnt easily. The dough spreads just a little in the oven so keeping them separated is important. I also felt the oven was a little hot and turned it down after a while and baked them longer. In the end, I found them to be easier to work with when I rolled them to about 1/4 inch thickness.
The other element that I was a little disappointed by was how flaky they were. It was almost like pie dough, which in some cases would be great but as I was looking for a cracker it missed the mark for me. (I wonder if this could be used as a pie dough...for an apple pie...interesting.) I was afraid to put them into a box or bag as I thought they'd just turn into dust. I'm sure there's more experimenting to be done on this for me but I don't know that I'll choose to make them again. If I did, I'd consider a dash of cayenne for the dough and a sprinkle of salt on top to pump up the flavor more.

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3 months ago Marian Bull

Marian is Food52's Associate Editor.

So sorry to hear this! What was unclear about the rolling out process?

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4 months ago Marian Bull

Marian is Food52's Associate Editor.

The recipe has been updated! So sorry about that -- but now everyone can have cheez its.

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4 months ago Megann S

There is a step that's missing from this recipe.....

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4 months ago MelissaH

I, too, think an instruction is missing between lining baking sheets and baking the squares. How thick to roll? Any chance a pasta machine could do the rolling for me?

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4 months ago cucina di mammina

I love these and want to try them at home, but can you tell me... do you roll out the chilled dough and then cut into the square shapes? I assume this is true so please confirm for me. Thanks for this great recipe idea :)