Saturday, February 11, 2012

Blue Cheese and Walnut Crackers

Blue Cheese and Walnut Crackers
I previously posted a recipe for Parmesan Thyme crackers and want to share one for another favorite cracker.  These are incredibly easy to make – and seriously, who makes their own crackers? This recipe calls for Stilton Blue Cheese but actually any one of your favorite blue cheeses will work. Depending on the blue cheese used, it might be wise to reduce the addition of salt.  The saltiness varies depending on brand and kind of cheese used.

Stilton is a type of English cheese, known for its distinctive smell and taste. It is made from cow’s milk, is a protected name cheese and by law can only be made in three counties in England.  Piercing the crust of the cheese with stainless steel needles, allowing air into the core, creates blue Stilton’s distinctive blue veins. The manufacturing and ripening process takes approximately nine to twelve weeks.

In a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream ¼ pound (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature and 8 ounces Stilton cheese, crumbled (about 12 ounces with rind), at room temperature. With the mixer on low speed, add 1½ C all-purpose flour, 2 tsp kosher salt, 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper and mix until it is in large crumbles, about 1 minute.  Add 1 Tb of water and mix until combined.
Mixing cheese with paddle attachment
Dump the dough onto a floured board, press it into a ball and roll into a 12-inch long log. Mix 1 extra-large egg beaten with1 Tb water for egg wash. Brush the log completely with the egg wash. Spread ½ to ¾ C toasted roughly chopped walnuts in a square on a cutting board and roll the log back and forth in the walnuts, pressing lightly, and distributing them evenly on the outside of the log. Wrap in plastic and refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or for up to 4 days.  Alternatively, you could freeze at this point – and thaw and bake later for that emergency snack later.
Roll the dough into a log (see below)
Ready for the oven
Preheat oven to 350 degree F.Cut the log into 3/8ths-inch thick with a small, sharp knife and place the crackers on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Bake for 22-25 minutes until lightly browned.  Rotate the pan once during baking.  Cool and serve at room temperature. The smell of blue cheese baking permeates the house and smells amazing.  The flavors are unique and intense.

You will surprise others with the bold and savory flavors of these crackers.  You can add a dollop of raspberry or apricot jam or fig chutney to add a bit of sweetness to the savory cracker. Or, if by some miracle, there are a few left over after dinner – save them and crumble over a green salad.

I love this served as an appetizer with champagne.  But, it can also be served at the conclusion of a meal with a wonderful Port!  It should make about 30 crackers. Enjoy!
Adapted by Larue from a recipe by Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa.


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