Friday, November 5, 2010

Graham Crackers

I really like trying to find a way to make things from scratch. I spend lots of time looking for homemade recipes without preservatives and un-pronounceable ingredients. I love browsing the copycat recipes. I really thrive on finding a new and better way to make something or finding something I’ve never tried making before. I mostly just like knowing that if I can’t go to the store, I can still have access to most of the things I want.

In my quest to try and duplicate as many products as I can with food storage items, I decided it was time to try Graham Crackers (I can hear my daughters saying, “Ghrum Crackers?” even as I type this. I’ve put off making these for a long time, thinking it would be harder and more time consuming than it was. I also wanted to make them with Graham Flour and also with regular Whole Wheat Flour so I could decide which was best.

I guess I was also pretty skeptical that they would actually look and taste and just be like graham crackers. I was pleasantly surprised. Not only were they easier than I thought they would be to make, they are good.

In order to pass my somewhat skeptically hesitant test, they had to do five things:
1) They had to look like Graham Crackers. I scored them and pricked each cracker with the tines of a fork and even though my crackers were more square than rectangular and a little uneven (or maybe a lot uneven) I will admit they looked like graham crackers.
2) They had to have the same texture as Graham Crackers. The recipe says that they are soft when you remove them from the cookie sheet, but harden when they cool. When I tasted one, fresh from the oven, I found myself thinking that in a way I hoped they wouldn’t harden because they were good just like they were. But they do harden and become crisper as they cool and set for awhile.
3) They had to taste like Graham Crackers. These have a really good flavor. I like the taste and they are what my little grandma would have called “Moorish” – they really do make you want more.
4) They had to pass the Graham Crackers and milk test. My favorite way to eat graham crackers is just to dip them in cold milk, well…unless there is chocolate frosting in the house then I like to sandwich a couple of crackers with frosting in the middle and then dip them in milk. They were delicious dipped in milk, even without the frosting.
5) They had to crumble like Graham Crackers. I knew that I wanted to be able to use them in the same way I used crushed graham cracker crumbs. I really wanted to use some of them to make this Peanut butter cookie recipe (below) which calls for graham cracker crumbs. They crumble very well, thank you.

There are a couple of things I would do different next time I make these. First, I thought I was rolling them very thin but when they bake, they puff up quite a bit so they aren’t as thin as I’d like. I rolled them less than ¼” thick, thinking they were closer to 1/8”, but I think thinner would be better. Secondly, the first pan I baked, I took out too soon. They still crisped up but I let the second pan get a little browner around the edges and those crackers that were browner definitely tasted sweeter.

The recipe called for Graham Flour and also white flour. It said that whole wheat flour could be substituted. I did use Graham flour but also tried them with whole wheat. They work either way. I have several graham cracker recipes and plan to try another one or two to see for sure which ones I like best. The recipe I used calls for honey and they did taste like honey grahams but I think they could be a little sweeter. The recipe also suggested using ½ honey and ½ molasses. I’d like to try that combo too. Another recipe calls for brown sugar instead of honey and I’d like to try that to see which the best overall combination is. Still another recipe calls for shortening. I’m thinking that these crackers are pretty flexible as far as the different recipe possibilities.

I’m including the recipe I used and I’m also including the peanut butter bar recipe that I use the graham cracker crumbs in, just for fun!

Homemade Graham Crackers
4 T. butter, softened
1 egg
6 T. sugar
4 T. honey (or 2 T. honey and 2 T. molasses)
½ t. baking soda
2 t. water
¾ t. salt
1 ½ c. graham flour (can use whole wheat flour)
¾ c. all-purpose flour
Heat oven to 350ยบ. Combine butter, egg and sugar in a bowl and beat till smooth and creamy. Stir in honey and blend well. Dissolve soda in the water and add to mixture. Add salt, graham flour and all-purpose flour to the mixture and blend thoroughly. Dough should hold together and be manageable. If it is too “tacky” add more graham flour. Liberally dust work surface with graham flour and roll dough to about 1/8” thickness. For easy handling, cut rolled dough into 3 or 4 sections and work with smaller sections at a time. If you use parchment paper to line your cookie sheets, you can roll the dough out on the parchment rather than trying to transfer it after it is rolled. With a knife, score dough into2 ½” squares and prick each square a few times with a fork. For a fun treat for your kids or grandkids, use cookie cutters and make shapes instead. You can also sprinkle the crackers with a cinnamon-sugar mixture before baking for cinnamon grahams. Bake for 8 minutes (if you want you can turn the dough over at this point) and bake 6-7 minutes more. I tried turning it over and didn’t think it made much difference – not really worth the trouble. Watch dough closely so it doesn’t burn. Remove from oven and cool on racks. Finish cutting in squares before they harden.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies
1 c. (2 sticks) butter
1 c. peanut butter
2 c. powdered sugar
1 ¾ c. crushed graham crackers
2 c. milk chocolate chips
Melt butter and peanut butter together. Stir in powdered sugar and graham crackers. Press mixture firmly into a 9x13” pan. Melt chocolate chips; spread on top of peanut butter mixture. Chill until firm. Remove from fridge and allow cookies to warm to room temperature. Cut into 1” squares. If the cookies are too cold, the chocolate will crack when you cut them. *This recipe can be cut in half and made in a 9x9 baking dish.

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