I don’t know about you, but appetizers are the one thing that I tend to forget about, then at the last minute, I’m scrambling for something to serve as an introductory course…… something that will whet the appetites of my guests without stuffing them before the main course. Something light, but delicious and simple, yet flavorful. The recipes that I ‘m sharing today and tomorrow fill this bill perfectly.
These Cheddar Poppy Seed Crackers are from Ottolenghi, the Cookbook, one of my cookbook “finds” this past year. They are crispy, buttery and melt-in-your mouth delicious! Everyone at my house, from kids to adults, wasted no time gobbling them up. They come together quickly and the dough can either be shaped into logs, refrigerated and sliced thin before baking or rolled out and cut with any shaped small cookie cutter. They make a great snack, a fun gift in a pretty little box or gift bag or a delicious make-ahead appetizer. I served them, as seen in the pictures, with an incredibly delicious Provencal Herb Cheese Spread, check back tomorrow for the recipe!
P.S. If you make these and are saving them for a party, an appetizer or gift-giving, be sure to find a super-duper good hiding place – they are quite addictive and you just might find your cracker bin empty when you go to look!
- 1 ⅔ cups 210 g plain flour, plus plenty extra for dusting
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- a pinch of cayenne pepper
- a pinch of salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 ½ sticks 165 g butter, at room temperature
- 6 ounces 165 g sharp Cheddar cheese (Parmesan is also wonderful), freshly grated
- 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
- 1 large egg beaten
- Sift the flour, baking powder, paprika and cayenne into a bowl and add the salt and pepper.
- Mix the softened butter with the Cheddar or Parmesan until they are well blended - with a mixer or by hand with a sturdy spoon. Add the dry ingredients and continue mixing until a soft dough is formed.
- Put the dough on a well-floured work surface and divide it in half. Use plenty of flour, both on your hands and on the work surface, to roll each piece into a log, 1 1/4-inches (3-4cm) in diameter. Wrap each log in cling film and place in the fridge for about 30 minutes to firm it up. See below* for directions for cut-out crackers.
- Scatter the poppy seeds over a flat plate or tray. Brush the logs with the beaten egg and then roll them in the poppy seeds until covered. Refrigerate again for an hour (at this stage you can also wrap the logs and freeze them).
- Preheat the oven to 170˚C or 350˚F degrees and line a baking sheet with baking parchment. Cut the logs into slices (5-8mm) thick and arrange them on the tray, spaced 1 inch (2-3 cm) apart.
- Bake for 12 minutes. The biscuits should be dark golden and smell amazing! Leave to cool completely before serving, or storing in a tightly sealed container.