I’m pretty sure that everyone has a goldfish food. Y’know, that one tasty treat that you’ll eat until you explode? My goldfish food is buttery, salty popcorn topped with M&Ms. Toss the candies on top while the popcorn and the butter are still hot, so the M&Ms get a little melty and slippery from the butter and I totally forgot what I was talking about.
Oh. Yes. Goldfish food. For Handsome Greg, that tasty, eat-until-you-explode treat is Cheez-Its.
If there is a box of Cheez-Its within his reach, he will plow through the entire box, no matter how small his appetite at the moment. It’s a compulsion.
When I thought about what in the world to make him for his birthday dinner this year, I considered truffle salt and imported cheeses and lobster and organic balsamic vinegar and duck fat and caviar.
And then I thought about what HE would like, and took a stab at making homemade Cheez-Its. I started with a recipe for cheese straws at Smitten Kitchen (I really, really love Smitten Kitchen), made one small substitution in the recipe (below), and cut them in squares, rather than straws. They’re just as addictive as the original Cheez-Its, but flaky and tender. They start with sharp cheddar cheese and truly come to life with a pinch of red pepper flakes.
I’ve made them for nearly every gathering at my place since Handsome Greg’s birthday, and they’re always scarfed up in record time.
Edited to add: I tried this recipe with orange cheddar, and I cut the crackers in one-inch circles with a biscuit cutter, and they were drop dead adorable:
Continue reading for the Homemade Cheez-Its recipe
- 6 ounces grated sharp white Cheddar cheese
- 4 tablespoons butter, softened and cut into pieces
- ¾ cup flour, plus more for dusting
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon milk (I used non-fat powdered milk and water)
- Add the grated cheese, butter pieces, flour, salt, and red pepper flakes to the food processor. With five 5-second pulses, blend the mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add the milk and pulse about 10 seconds longer, until the dough forms a ball.
- Preheat the oven to 350.
- Lightly flour your surface and rolling pin. Roll the dough into a rectangle ⅛ inch thick. With a pizza cutter, cut the dough into 1-inch squares, and carefully transfer the squares to a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Prick each square several times with a fork.
- Bake the crackers on the middle rack for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the corners are lightly browned. Remove from the oven and transfer to a rack to cool.