Tuesday, May 17, 2011

How to make THE BEST Homemade Graham Crackers

I see so many delicious recipes that call for graham crackers (or more frequently, graham cracker crumbs) which usually puts me in a conundrum.

You see, all of the non organic/natural graham cracker brands I have seen have contained quite hideous ingredient lists.

For example (Honey Maid)-

As much as I love ingesting high fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil, I think I'll pass....

And then I go to the natural food store or the organic section and I notice that these graham crackers almost always cost double the price and taste like cardboard.
And yet, I make the sacrifice and buy the extremely expensive cardboard and use it in said recipes. Yum.

Well, I have found an alternative that isn't as easy as buying the store bought kind, but way tastier and takes a minimal amount of time from start to finish.

I come to you with a recipe from Alton Brown and if you follow the measurements exactly (okay, well maybe just one minor tweak) then you will be awarded with the most tantalizing graham crackers ever known to man.

I mean, come on, it comes from Alton Brown! (which, on a bit of a side note, has canceled his show Good Eats!!! NOOOOOOOO)

First you want to start with your dry ingredients (Scroll down for the exact measurements). Just plop them all in the food processor!
The measurements are all by weight, so if you don't have a scale don't bother making the recipe. Seriously. Okay, well maybe MAKE the recipe, but if doesn't turn out don't blame Alton!

Pulse the dry ingredients until combined.
On the side you should have your "wet works" (as Alton would call them), molasses, honey, vanilla extract, and milk.
The honey wasn't a part of the original recipe, but I decided to go with half molasses and half honey after reading some reviewers comments.
You also want to have your (very cold) butter, cubed and ready. I put it in the freezer after I cubed it, got the rest of my ingredients together, and then took it out right before I was ready.
Once all your dry ingredients have been mixed together, add the butter into the food processor.
Pulse until the mixture starts to look like cornmeal, like this-
Now pour in the "wet works" (:
And pulse until the whole mixture comes together!
The key is to not over mix. The mixture will look dry, but don't worry. This is NOT the time to just turn on the food processor and walk away...NOT THE TIME!
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.
The dough will turn from a dry, crumbly mess to a much more manageable form. But really, its best to keep it in there for 2 hours or more. The flavors meld and the dough becomes much more hydrated.

And now for the fun part! Rolling out the dough is semi mess-free when you place it between two pieces of parchment paper. No extra flouring involved.

I cut mine using a heart shaped cookie cutter for even baking, but you can just as easily use a pizza cutter to cut straight lines horizontally and vertically to create actual graham crackers.
Remove the grahams, place them on a parchment (or silicone) lined baking sheet, dot with a fork, and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar! (Totally optional, but so worth it!)
Bake at 350 till they look browned and crisp. I can't remember how long mine took but I think it was around 10-13 minutes.
And ta-da!
These graham crackers are amazing. They keep well too! Even two weeks later they still had the same crispy, buttery crunch. One of the many secrets of this recipe is that it uses kosher salt. The last graham cracker recipe I tried didn't use kosher salt (actually, it called for no salt, but I added a bit of the normal "table" variety) and I could tell a huge difference.

Since I've made these graham crackers for the first time, this recipe has become my go to recipe...none other is worth trying! It definitely heightens the taste of anything you make that calls for graham cracker crumbs.

Enough talk, here's the recipe!
Alton Brown's Graham Cracker Recipe
8 3/8 ounces graham flour
1 7/8 ounces all-purpose flour
3 ounces dark brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 ounces unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes and chilled
2 1/4 ounces molasses (I used half honey and half molasses, recommended)
1 1/2 ounces whole milk (1% milk worked just fine for me!)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Place both flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon into the bowl of a food processor and pulse several times to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles cornmeal. Add the molasses (and honey), milk and vanilla extract and process until the dough forms a ball, approximately 1 minute. Press the ball into a 1/2-inch thick disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes (or longer).
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Unwrap the chilled dough and place it onto a large piece of parchment paper and top with a second sheet of parchment paper. Roll the dough out until it is 1/8-inch thick. Slide the rolled dough and parchment paper onto a half sheet pan. Remove the top sheet of parchment paper and cut the dough, using a rolling pizza cutter into 2-inch square pieces, by making vertical and then horizontal cuts all the way across the dough. Trim off any excess. Using a fork, poke holes all over the top of the dough. Leave the crackers on the pan and bake on the middle rack of the oven for 25 minutes or until the edges just start to darken. Remove from the oven, set the sheet pan with the crackers on a cooling rack and allow to cool completely. Once completely cool, break into individual crackers and store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

As you can see, Alton chose a different method of baking his graham crackers, which probably works just great but the way I've been doing it has worked very well for me and takes much less time to bake since the pieces are separated. Whatever floats your boat!

These are great for just plain snacking, dipped in chocolate, with cream cheese frosting, as the base for a s'more (duh!), with nutella, crumbled for magic bars, cheesecake crusts, the possibilities are endless! (and the ingredient list ISN'T)


No comments:

Post a Comment