Parmesan Thyme Crackers
I have a bit of a confession to make.
I don’t really like Ina Garten on her Food Network Show show Barefoot Contessa. There. I said it. Oh, she’s perfectly nice and all, but it’s something about the Hamptons lifestyle and her stiffness on camera that I just can’t connect with.
However, for as much as I don’t care for Ina Garten on TV, I love her cookbooks. I mentioned a little while ago that my mom gave me her new Back to Basics cookbook. In print, Ina comes across as much more sincere and personable than she does on TV. The food photography does not disappoint, even with my high expectations, and she adds some personal touches, like a list of 10 things not to serve at a dinner party. In this Back to Basics cookbook, Ina focuses on classic recipes with the volume turned up, the same kind of food she likes to entertain with.
Now that I can relate to!
There were several recipes in Back to Basics that caught my eye, but the one I tried first was Ina’s Parmesan Thyme Crackers recipe. How could I not? It has 4 ingredients (plus salt and pepper), and two of them are Parmesan and butter!
Despite the short ingredient list, these crackers are surprisingly delicious. Baking them made my whole house smell like Parmesan. For a moment I thought I had died and gone to Heaven! The crackers themselves are tender and crumbly, but not overly dry, with a fantastic savory cheese taste. They pair really nicely with a glass of wine and would make a great appetizer when entertaining. Just be careful because they sneak up on you. First you have one, then another, and next thing you know you’ve eaten 5 or 6!
Not that I’ve done that or anything.
Parmesan Thyme Crackers
Adapted from Back to Basics by Ina Garten
Makes about 20 crackers
Because of the short ingredient list, you’ll want to use the highest quality ingredients you can get your hands on. The pre-grated Parmesan is fine on my spaghetti, but for this recipe I grated a block of real Parmigiano-Reggiano (the expensive stuff) by hand. It was worth it.
¼ lb (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 ounces freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 cup)
1 tsp. minced fresh thyme leaves
½ tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
Cream butter with salt and pepper for 1 minute. On low speed, add cheese and thyme. Mix until combined. Still on low, add flour and combine just until crumbly, about 1 minute. If the dough is too dry, add 1 tsp. of water, ½ tsp. at a time. (I only needed ½ tsp.)
Dump dough onto floured surface and using your hands, press the dough together to form a smooth ball. Roll the dough out into a 8-9 inch long log. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 4 days. (Don’t skip the refrigeration, tempting as it may be. It gives the flavors time to meld and firms up the dough, making it easier to cut. If you’re making this ahead of time, the dough can be frozen for up to 6 months.)
Preheat oven to 350°. Cut log into 3/8 inch rounds (18-20 of them) and place on a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet. Bake 18-22 minutes (start checking at 15), until lightly browned. Rotate pan once during baking to ensure evening browning. Cool and serve room temperature.