Small Bites for Late Nights

The finished product.
Great late night bites

Blue cheese walnut crackers are effortless to make and they taste grand. I hear they pair well with a dirty martini. Not being a drinker myself, I can not verify that particular statement. The secret to a good blue cheese walnut cracker is to choose a more aggressively intense blue cheese. Since the locally owned cheese shop has closed, I now shop the cheese section of the local grocery store.  At this store there are a variety of blue cheeses and cheeses are identified by strength. This year the cheese of choice was a Valdeon blue cheese from Spain. The cheese is wrapped in leaves (oak, but sycamore is often used) and cave-aged in the mountains of northern Spain. The result is a great tasting cheese which is perfect for this recipe.

2 Photo
The main ingredients

The recipe from The Barefoot Contessa is the starting point for my recipe, but I have made adjustments to suit my needs and preferences. Chop the walnuts to a small size as rolling the dough flat will be impeded by any large walnut pieces.  Of course, the walnuts can be omitted if that is the preference.  If you do this on one half of the cutting board the remaining half can be used to chop or crumble the blue cheese into small pieces.

To being, cream room-temperature butter (I prefer unsalted organic butter) and the crumbled blue cheese using an electric hand mixer. Once these are creamed, the flour, salt, and freshly ground pepper needs to be added in three or four stages. Lastly, add in the chopped walnuts. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30-45 minutes. This is enough time to clean the kitchen, get a drink, gather the baking sheets, line them with parchment, and prep the rolling area.

Rolling the chilled dough
Rolling the chilled dough

Once the dough has been sufficiently chilled you just need to roll it to 1/8 , but no more than 1/4 inch thickness. I divide the dough into two or three sections due to space limitations in my kitchen, but if you have the space, go for it! Use a measuring device to cut into one inch squares. I start by squaring off the rough edges with a dough scraper marked with a ruler, then cutting strips, then cutting into the final size. The common size among the crackers allows for even baking.

Once cut, place the dough on parchment paper lined baking sheets. Generally, I leave only small amount of space between crackers. Next, kosher salt is sprinkled on top of the crackers. Only now are these crackers ready for their 20-25 minute trip to the oven (less for those thin crackers). Once cooled, I place them in food-grade bags, tie with a ribbon, and give as gifts.

Up close and personal with the BCW crackers
Up close and personal with the BCW crackers

Now is when the cheese selection is so important. When I have used regular clue cheese from the diary section of the grocery store, no one compliments or comments on the crackers. It is only when an aggressive cheese is used are the crackers commented upon. Lesson learned.

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