mike kostyo

I know food.

homemade cheez-its

This morning I voted, by text message no less (it's how you vote for your preferred new flavor of snack crackers when you live in the future), for asiago cheese as the new flavor of Cheez-Its, over romano and colby. Currently, according to the Cheez-It website, colby is in the lead with 1,135,318 votes, asiago is second with 870,385 votes and romano is last with a paltry 312,930 votes.

How ridiculous. I realize I'm falling into the advertising trap set by the Cheez-It company here, but colby, really America? "You know, I like Cheez-Its, but they are a bit too sharp for me. If only there were something a little milder, a little less offensive to my tastes." -1,135,318 people. Eat a saltine.

In any event, I enjoy Cheez-Its greatly. I swear this blog post is not sponsored by Cheez-It and Cheez-It didn't just send me a box of Cheez-Its or anything like that. I just like them. Maybe it's my Hungarian background and the fact that Cheez-Its have paprika in them.

Since it's not looking good for asiago (those people holding the campaign signs that say "Vote for Asiago" on the Cheez-It website need to work a little harder), I guess I'll just have to make my own. Luckily, ReadyMade Magazine developed their own Cheez-It recipe. These crackers have an outstanding toasty, sharp cheese flavor. They are also unbelievably addicting. Make a lot.

I tweaked the recipe a little bit, adding good-old Hungarian paprika (or use spicy for a different taste), using 3/4 white cheddar and 1/4 yellow (it's what I had in the fridge, but the yellow also gives the crackers a bit more of that yellow hue) and dusting them lightly with salt. But obviously you can use whatever cheese you want, like asiago for instance, if such a product never makes it to your local grocery store, for some strange reason, like people are choosing bland, boring cheeses over delicious, nutty asiago in vote-based marketing campaigns.

homemade cheez-it crackers

adapted from readymade magazine

+ 6 oz. extra sharp white cheddar, shredded
+ 2 oz. sharp yellow cheddar, shredded
+ 1/2 stick room temperature unsalted butter
+ 1 teaspoon kosher salt
+ 1/2 tablespoon sweet paprika
+ 1 cup unbleached flour
+ 2 tablespoons ice water
+ kosher salt for dusting

In your stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the cheese, butter, teaspoon of kosher salt and paprika and mix on low-medium speed until combined. Change to low speed and gradually add the flour until the dough is dry and shaggy. Slowly add the ice water and mix until the dough comes together into a ball.

Pat the dough into a thick disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line two sheet pans with wax paper.

Cut the dough in half. Reserve one half in the refrigerator while you roll out the other half into a very thin (1/8 inch) rectangle. If you have a pastry cutter with scalloped edges you can use that, otherwise use a sharp knife to cut 1 inch squares. Transfer the squares to the prepared baking sheets with small spaces in between each - the crackers will puff up but won't spread. Use the point of a chopstick to make an indentation in the center of each cracker. Very lightly dust the crackers the kosher salt - you only need a few granules on each.

Bake the crackers for 15-17 minutes, turning and flipping the pan positions halfway through. Watch the crackers - they can burn in a moment. They should be a beautiful golden brown when you pull them out. Transfer them to cooling racks immediately.

makes about 170 crackers