snacks

Cheese-less Cheez Its!

I have a sweet tooth, yes, a nearly monstrous one, but I also have a savory tooth, and a great big one at that. So big that I may have once powered my way through an entire box of Cheez Its in a single sitting (I may have also been up in the wee, pitch-black hours of the morning working on an English essay). If you’ve never tasted a Cheez It before, let me give you a little de-briefing about the (nearly notorious) savory cracker: salty + cheesy + so crisp/crunchy = the best goddamn cracker around that doesn’t even try to cover up it’s dismal health benefits or myriad processed ingredients with false marketing; the only ‘healthy’ thing about Cheez Its is the fact that the refined flour is fortified. From a nutritional standpoint, yes, okay, Cheez Its are essentially the devil’s handiwork, but from a more romantic, c’est la vie, perspective, that is precisely their charm! If you’ve ever had Flaming Hot Cheetos you may understand what I’m getting at… so savory and unnatural, but so satisfying (addictive? eeep…) that you allow yourself an indulgent nibble once in a while, and subsequently throw your hands in the air when asked by a loved one (or the other, more responsible, voice in your head) why you’re eating such obviously unhealthy junk, ‘who cares? not me right now.’ 

The truth is that I do care a little bit right now, or at least more than I used to. I’ll definitely never outgrow my sweet and savory mammoth-sized teeth, but I no longer have as much of an allowance to spend on processed junk like Cheez Its. Also, quite simply, I just don’t feel too great after eating ‘junk’ food. I could throw out as many ‘you only live once’ quotes as I could possibly retrieve from the depths of Google, and all of them combined still wouldn’t cancel out the tummy ache and lethargy and brain fog that follow my rare bouts of unhealthy eating. Having said that, however, and as I’ve come to realize, you can take the Cheez Its out of the girl’s life, but you can’t take the Cheez Its out of the girl. And so, here we are, with a wagon-load of homemade Cheez Its in tow (cheese-less Cheez Its at that).


Ingredients~
Makes two large batches (each batch = one baking-pan-sized sheet of crackers)

3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cups wholegrain spelt flour (or sub with more all-purpose or white spelt flour)
1/4 cup cornmeal
6 tbsps unsalted butter, cold and cubed (swap out for non-dairy butter to make it totally vegan-friendly!)
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
Dash or two of turmeric (for a deeper yellow hue)
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt, plus generous sprinkles for the top
4-7 tbsps cold water

Instructions~

1. Preheat oven to 400 F. In a large bowl, combine both flours, cornmeal, nutritional yeast, turmeric, baking powder, and salt. Cube the cold butter if you haven’t already, and toss the pieces into the flour mixture, using your hands and/or a fork to cut up the butter until the resulting mixture resembles ~roughly~ pea-sized buttery-flour pebbles.
2. Drizzle 4 tbsps of cold water (to start) over the mixture and stir to combine. Add one more tbsp at a time until the mixture just comes together into a ball; it may still seem a little scraggly, but that’s okay, drizzle extra water sparingly).
3. Separate the ball of dough into two and wrap one and set it aside. Lightly flour a sheet of parchment paper and the top of the dough before beginning to roll it out into a rectangle, about 1/8-inch thick; you’ll probably have to continue to dust the dough with flour as you roll, but that’s alright. Once rolled and (mostly) even in thickness, use a sharp knife or pizza cutter if you happen to have one, to cut the dough into squares. Finally, use a chopstick to dot holes in the center of each cracker (if you feel like it).
4. Carefully transfer the sheet of crackers to a baking tray and bake for about 10-13 minutes, checking on them at the 8-9 minute mark to make sure they aren’t too dark; you want the cheez-its to be borderline too-golden as this means they will be sufficiently crunchy, but 20 seconds too long and they can easily take on a burnt flavor. Allow the crackers to fully (i.e. mostly) cool and crisp up before digging in! (You’ll be glad you have a second ball of dough to roll out)

Note: recipe adapted from Minimalist Baker’s recipe!

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