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Every week, baking expert Alice Medrich will be going rogue on Food52 -- with shortcuts, hacks, and game-changing recipes.
Today: Alice turns her attention to a summer campfire staple.
These iconic cookies are addictively crunchy and flavorful and blessedly not-too-sweet -- far better and more wholesome than store-bought. The secret to making them at home is graham flour, which is coarsely ground whole wheat flour. For those of you who just can’t help asking about substitutions, the answer is yes but no! Yes, you could substitute regular whole wheat flour for the graham flour, but your graham crackers will not be as tender or wonderful. Bottom line: It's not for nothing that these are called “graham” crackers. My addition of a little oat flour makes the cookies even more tender and tasty.
Bob’s Red Mill Oat Flour and Graham Flour can be found in the baking aisles of well-stocked supermarkets or by mail order, and you can store leftover flour in the freezer or fridge. You can also make your own oat flour in a coffee grinder (blenders and food processors don’t grind fine enough): Put 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (55 grams) rolled oats in a clean coffee grinder and grind to a fine powder.
Probably no one needs to be told what to do with graham crackers, but just in case...
1. First, last, and always: Make S’mores.
2. Make a decadent sandwich: Fill with dulce de leche and vanilla or coconut ice cream, or with Nutella and coffee ice cream.
3. Make a snack: Spread grahams with peanut butter or almond butter, drizzle with honey, and cover with banana slices.
4. Make an indulgent (secret?) breakfast: Break graham crackers into a bowl, top with berries and chopped walnuts, and add milk.
5. Make a spicy crunchy sundae topping: Thoroughly mix together 1 cup (140 grams) graham cracker crumbs, 1/3 cup (30 grams) finely chopped pecans, 3 tablespoons (35 grams) sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground ancho chile, and 6 tablespoons (85 grams) melted butter. Dump the mixture on a parchment lined baking sheet and use a fork to spread it about 1/4-inch thick. Bake in a preheated 350° F oven for 12 to 15 minutes, raking and spreading the mixture again once or twice, until it smells toasted and looks a shade darker than it was before baking started. Set the pan on a rack to cool. Break up and store in an airtight container until needed (up to at least a week). Try it over vanilla ice cream with sliced peaches and caramel sauce.
For graham cracker flavor variations, including chocolate, see my book Chewy Gooey Crisp Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies.
Makes about 3 dozen 2-inch grahams
1 3/4 cups (225 grams) graham flour
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon (55 grams) oat flour
1/4 cup (50 grams) sugar, plus 3 to 4 teaspoons for sprinkling
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons (85 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 tablespoons (65 grams) honey
3 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Alice's new book Seriously Bitter Sweet is a complete revision of her IACP award-winning Bittersweet, updated for the 54%, 61%, and 72% (and beyond) bars available today. It's packed with tricks, techniques, and answers to every chocolate question, plus 150 seriously delicious recipes -- both savory and sweet.
Photo by James Ransom