Parmesan and basil are just meant to be together. They’re the holy matrimony of savory, the yin to the yang of apples and cinnamon, they’re the common denominator in the finest of Italian pastas!
Need I go on about their combined glory?
This recipe is for everyone and anyone who didn’t know they could make their own crackers: parmesan and basil, held together by creamy, flakey pastry. So easy, it’s redonkulous. But baker beware — these little snack morsels are sinister — don’t let their size and cuteness fool you. If you’re not careful, they’ll jump into your mouth before you even know what hit’cha.
In fact, my nick name for these little guys is “cracky crackers” — because I eat them up waaay too fast every time I make them.
I’ve adapted this recipe to be made without using a food processor — not everybody has one. You can make this recipe with a pastry cutter instead of a food processor, or with two butter knives instead of a pastry cutter, or with your hands instead of two butter knives (for those of you who like getting super friendly with your cracker dough).
Of course, if you have a food processor, then use it!
Another note of extreme importance: for this recipe to turn out, you must use real parmesan cheese.
Anything that looks like a powder, or has the word “Kraft” on the package, or doesn’t need refrigeration is not cheese — it’s plastic. Plastic is not tasty. If you want to eat plastic, go munch on some tupperware. Gross.
Parmesan Basil Crackers
*adapted from The New York Times
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon dried basil
- 1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
- 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, cold
- 1/4 cup (or more) half & half cream, cold
Preheat your oven to 400°F (or 205°C). Cube the cold butter and place it back in the fridge until needed.
Grate 1/2 cup of loosely packed, fresh parmesan cheese. If not using a food processor, spread it on a cutting board and chop it into very fine pieces.
Sift together flour, salt, and dried basil in a bowl. Stir in finely chopped parmesan. Remove cold butter from the fridge and drop it into the bowl.
Using a food processor, pastry cutter, two butter knives, your hands — whatever you’re using! — cut the cold butter into the flour until the mixture becomes crumby and the largest crumbs are no bigger than peppercorns.
Starting with 1/4 cup of cold half & half, pour the cream into the crumby flour mixture and stir. You want the mixture to become one big dough ball, but you do not want it to stick to your hands. If 1/4 cup of half & half does not make all the dough come together, add more half & half cream by the teaspoon until the dough does come together properly.
Roll the dough out to a 1/2 cm thick (or 1/8 of an inch) on a lightly floured surface. Using a pizza dough cutter or a butter knife, slice the dough into 2 x 2 cm squares. Use a spatula to lift the dough squares onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper — the parchment paper really helps to prevent the bottom of the crackers from burning.
Poke each cracker in the middle with a fork before baking for 11 ~ 13 minutes, or until the edges are very lightly browned.
Makes about 50 little crackers.
If you can manage to not eat these all within a day or so, I recommend not using an air tight container to store these crackers, since they tend to get a little soft in the middle if you do.
You can always experiment with other hard cheeses (like cheddar or gruyère or swiss or asiago) and other dried herbs. And that’s it — your own homemade crackers: super light and tasty, and without all those extra weird preservatives they add to store-bought crackers! Yum!