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Author Notes: These crackers are practically a shortbread, with chestnut flour providing a mildly sweet, earthy flavor that’s lightly scented with crushed fennel seed and thyme. Once cooked and cooled, I slather the bite-sized rounds with a creamy spread, topped with a lemony, sweet-and salty relish made with figs and preserved lemon. The crackers can also be used for a sweet version of this, by adding a few teaspoons of honey or (my latest favorite, sorghum) to the spread, then topping the bite-sized treats with a small dollop of tart fruit or berry preserve or marmalade, or a thick cranberry chutney. Whatever you decide to do with these . . . enjoy!! ;o) —AntoniaJames
Makes 40 - 45 crackers
The Savory Fig Relish and Cheese Spread (Plenty for one batch of crackers, with some left over)
- 3 ounces goat cheese (or cream cheese, or a soft, mild sheep’s milk cheese)
- 2 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons crème fraiche (or sour cream)
- Pinch of salt (only if necessary . . . your preserved lemon may provide all you need)
- 6 ounces dried brown Turkish figs, stems removed, then halved
- 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped preserved lemon (peel only, and rinsed)
- 1 teaspoon coarsely chopped thyme leaves
The Chestnut Crackers
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup chestnut flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon crushed fennel seeds
- ¼ teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 4 ounces (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 8 or 10 pieces
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons crème fraiche
- Extra flour for rolling and cutting
- TO MAKE THE CHEESE SPREAD: Combine the first four ingredients until fully blended.
- TO MAKE THE RELISH: Place the fig pieces, the preserved lemon and the thyme leaves in a food processor and pulse until the figs have been finely chopped and all of the ingredients combined. Stop once or twice, as necessary, to scrape down the sides, and up from the bottom, of the processor work bowl. Add a few teaspoons of water, one at a time, if the relish seems too stiff and dry.
- TO MAKE THE CRACKERS: Place all of the dry ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter pieces and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
- Turn the mixture into a large bowl and drizzle the oil and crème fraiche over it. Use the back of a form to mix the ingredients. It will appear dry and crumbly. Don’t despair.
- Use your hands to scoop up and press the dough together, working briskly so as not to warm the dough any more than necessary with your hands. Turn the pieces of dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap, bring the edges up and squeeze the dough into a ball inside the plastic wrap.
- Flatten it into a disk, thoroughly wrap it and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
- Heat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Roll out the dough between two layers of plastic wrap, to about 3/8 inch thick, and cut into 1 ½ inch rounds. (Between cuts, I dip the cutter into a tablespoon or two of flour that I put on a small saucer.)
- Place the rounds of dough 1 ½ inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment. Bake for 15 – 18 minutes, until very lightly browned around the edges.
- If not using two baking sheets, allow the sheet to cool after baking the first batch before using it for the second. (You can speed this up by rinsing under cold water and drying thoroughly.)
- Cool the crackers on wire racks for at least 15 minutes.
- When thoroughly cool, spread with the cheese and cream mixture, then top with the relish. Pop one in your mouth and . . . .
- Enjoy!! ;o)
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Hors d'Oeuvre
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best One-Bite Party Snack
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