I owe the origins of this recipe to yet another book at Project Gutenberg — Recipes Tried and True, published in 1894 by the Ladies’ Aid Society of the First Presbyterian Church in Marion, Ohio — and specifically to one contributor, Mrs. Fred Schaeffer. Though I’d seen similar recipes, this one impressed me because it called for no added fat. Also, Mrs. Schaeffer makes it all sound so fast and easy, just a list of ingredients, then “roll thin, and cut with pastry wheel in long, narrow strips. Bake in quick oven.” Of course, she’s assuming a level of cooking skill in her readers that makes some things go without saying. But even when they are said, as I’ve done here (to the point of figuring out exactly how much “water enough to roll out like pie dough” is), this recipe is still fairly quick and easy.
About those “long, narrow strips” — the original recipe is for cheese straws, which would also make an interesting appetizer. But the diamond shape and the size I made them gives you more of a base to pile toppings on. Try the straw shape if you want, just don’t cook them quite so long.
These are mild flavored, especially if you leave out the salt, so they go well with salty or spicy toppings. Olives or marinated cream cheese, or both together, are good. So are green onions just chopped and sprinkled on top.
They’d also go well with soup or a charcuterie platter, or even as a side dish in a light supper.
While the first batch was baking, I experimented with frying a few of the second batch in canola oil, a couple of minutes each side. Of course they came out crisper than the baked ones, but my tasters were divided on whether they were better otherwise — one yes, one no, one equal.
Though the gems resemble commercial crackers, they probably don’t keep anywhere near as long. But they didn’t last long at my house, anyway.
- 1 cup flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoon cream cheese, cubed
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (can be partly grated Parmesan)
- ½ teaspoon salt, optional (especially if you use lots of Parmesan)
- Mix the flour with the baking powder, plus the salt if you’re using it.
- Mash the cream cheese into the flour mixture, as if you were making biscuits.
- Add the shredded/grated cheese and mix together.
- Sprinkle with 5 tablespoons water and quickly stir to form a dough.
- Roll out to about ¼ inch thick.
- Cut into 2-inch diamonds with cookie cutter or sharp knife.
- Place about a inch apart on greased baking sheet.
- Bake at 450℉ for 5 minutes, turn over and bake 5 minutes more or until lightly browned.
- Serve warm or room temperature.