Friday, January 16, 2015

Junk @ Home 2015 - Wheat Thins

Welcome to the first installment of my 2015 - Junk @ Home Challenge! I decided to start off this something simple and easy to make. Sadly, it turned out to be a little more tricky than I originally expected. I had to experiment with a few different recipes, roll out the dough in a variety of thicknesses and determine the optimal time to bake the crackers.

In the end, I was successful in making Wheat Thin-like crackers but they weren't the shining star of this particular experiment. If anything, I should re-name this post - Homemade parmesan cheese powder. Years ago, Wheat Thins came in a parmesan flavor. The boyfriend loved this particular flavor and was so sad when it disappeared from the shelves. I thought that I would try to recreate them and set about trying to figure out how to make a chemical-free parmesan powder.

After a little internet searching, I found that you can create your own cheese powder by dehydrating a low-moisture cheese. Since I don't own a dehydrator and don't have the space in my kitchen to put sone, I decided to go with the low-fuss, oven-drying method. I left Shredded parmesan in the oven, with the light on, for twenty hours. At the end of that period, I was left with a crumbly, low-oil parmesan cheese. A quick whir in the food processor with some freshly cracked black pepper and I had a flavorful parmesan cheese powder. The crackers were tasty, but it was this cheese powder that will be topping my pastas for the next few weeks!

One Year Ago: Slow Cooker Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal
Two Years Ago: No-Bake Granola Bars
Three Years Ago: Cherry Stripper Cookies
Four Years Ago: Pineapple Chutney & Chicken

Parmesan & Black Pepper Wheat Crackers
Adapted from Classic Snacks

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon malted milk powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into 1 tablespoon pieces
2 tablespoons skim milk
2 tablespoons cold water
1/4 cup parmesan cheese powder (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 400 °F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silpats.

In the bowl of your food processor (or a mixing bowl), whir together flours, sugar, malted milk powder and salt. Add butter and pulse until mixture looks crumbly (alternatively, cut in butter with a pastry blender or a fork). Add milk and butter and pulse until dough comes together in a ball (or stir in liquids, kneading in the last bit of liquid with your hands.

Lightly dust work surface with flour. Cut dough ball in half. Roll out the first half of the dough until it is 1/16-inches thick (I use a rolling pin with sizing bands), being sure to dust with flour so keep dough from sticking to the work surface or rolling pin. Cut dough sheet into 1 1/2-inch squares, using either a pizza cutter or a knife (I just use the edge of a ruler). Place squares on the prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with more kosher salt.  Bake crackers for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy.

Remove from the oven and let sit for 1 minute on the baking sheets. Transfer crackers to a zip top bag and add parmesan cheese powder. Shake until coated. Open the top of the bag and let crackers cool in the parmesan powder. (Do not keep bag closed while the crackers cool, the moisture will be trapped and soften your crackers)

Parmesan and Black Pepper Cheese Powder
A Wilde Original

1/2 block Parmesan cheese, shredded
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place a wire cooling rack on top of a baking sheet. Place two layers of cheesecloth on top of the cooling rack. Spread shredded parmesan cheese over the cheesecloth and place in the oven. Turn on the oven light and leave for 10 hours.

Take baking sheet out of the oven and rub the parmesan cheese with paper towels to remove some of the oil. Return baking sheet to the oven and let sit with the light on for another 10 hours.

Remove from the oven and transfer to a food processor or blender. Pulse cheese until finely ground. Add black pepper and pulse for another 5 seconds to distribute.
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