It’s 8 PM and the kids just went to sleep. Not my kids (I’m only thirteen), but the kids I’m babysitting. And now I’m trying not to move a muscle or make a sound so that those kids stay put. It’s a serious struggle because the kitchen is basically calling to me. I’m practically all alone in a house full of of someone else’s junk food, and I can’t wait to launch my official raid of the snack cupboard, get a can of Fresca out of the fridge, and sit down in front of MTV.
When I see a Cheez-It, I'm transported back to that time. The red package immediately has me calculating how many crackers I can stuff into my mouth without the box feeling too empty to put back in the pantry. Let me just suggest that you keep these homemade cuties -- which are perhaps even more addictive than the originals -- very well hidden; better yet, take them with you when you leave the kids at home with the babysitter.
2 cups (9 ounces) all-purpose flour 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature 7 1/2 ounces (about 3 1/2 cups) finely grated sharp cheddar 2 to 4 tablespoons ice water 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
In the bowl of a food processor add the flour, baking powder, and salt and pulse to combine. Add the butter and cheese and pulse until very well combined. Add 2 tablespoons of ice water and pulse until the dough is just wet enough to come together when squeezed. Add up to 2 tablespoons more water if necessary.
Divide the dough between two pieces of plastic wrap.
Press each half of dough into a flat square, wrap well, and chill for at least 30 minutes.
Working with one square at a time, roll the dough out to a scant 1/8-inch thick. Using a fluted pastry wheel, cut the dough into 3/4-inch wide strips.
Then cut the dough in the other direction to make 3/4-inch squares.
Use the flat end of a wooden skewer to poke a hole in the center of each square. Freeze the dough until firm, 10 to 15 minutes. Roll and cut the remaining dough, then preheat the oven to 350° F.
Brush half of the dough with beaten egg white and sprinkle it with salt. Use an offset spatula to gently break the egg-washed dough apart and place the squares on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Bake until puffed and set and browned on the bottom, about 14 to 16 minutes. (Make sure to cook them well so that the finished crackers are crisp. Completely frozen dough may take a few extra minutes to bake.)
Transfer the parchment with the baked crackers onto a cooling rack. Repeat with the remaining frozen crackers. Store the cooled crackers in an airtight container.