I’m not one for snack food, but I’ll occasionally get the urge to buy some, and Cheez Its are my weakness. The cheesy, crunchy crackers are addictive and delicious. I eat that box of Cheez Its in less than a week. Cheez Its are really bad for you though, and when I’ve professed my obsession with them, multiple people have told me that they are probably engineered so that I can’t stop eating them. Therefore, I decided to make my own! All the cheesy, crunchy glory without the preservatives and mystery ingredients.
These don’t taste exactly like Cheez Its, and I haven’t decided yet if they taste better than the real thing or not. They are quite tasty, though, and surprisingly simple to make. I don’t have a food processor so I used my stand mixer to make this, but if I were to have a food processor, that would be my first choice to use. A stand mixer works fine, and I’m sure it wouldn’t be much more effort to make by hand with a pastry blender.
Note: I tested storing these in the refrigerator and not in the refrigerator– the ones in the fridge remained crisp, while the ones not in it lost their crispness. They didn’t become soggy, but they weren’t as good as the ones stored in the fridge.
8 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
¼ cup unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon red pepper
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1 tablespoon plus ¼ teaspoon heavy cream (or milk or water– whichever you happen to have. Please do not feel like you have to use cream. I just happened to have some on hand.)
1. Combine cheese, butter, salt and red pepper in the bowl of a stand mixer, mixing on low (1), gradually moving up to 2 or 3 once it begins to come together.
2. Add flour. Mix at low until combined and the dough has mostly formed a ball. (It’s not necessary for all the bits to be stuck to each other; you’re looking for a uniform texture, and you can form the dough into a ball by hand.)
3. Form dough into a ball and roll out thinly on a lightly floured surface with rolling pin. Try to make the dough as thin as you can, about ⅛ inch if possible. With a pizza cutter, trim the edge of the dough to make a rectangle. Use cutter to cut dough into 1 inch squares. Roll out scraps from the edges and repeat.
4. Transfer crackers to a parchment lined baking sheet, making sure crackers are evenly spaced. Use a fork, dowel or whatever other small pointy tool to make an indentation/hole in the dough to help discourage puffing. Baking crackers at 375 F for 15 minutes, turning the baking sheet halfway through cooking time. Let cool, and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.