I can’t even begin to tell you how relieved thrilled I am to be posting this recipe for Savory Bacon Crackers. After countless tries, with results ranging from “marginal” to “close…but no cigar”, I finally produced crunchy, flavorful crackers that got gobbled up by the tasting crew.
I tried making them yeast-based (bleh), I layered the dough with butter (like croissant dough), I baked them hot and fast, and low and slow. I tried chilling the dough for days.
In the end, it was just a matter of getting the proportions right and finding a way to make sure the crackers were crunchy all the way through. These aren’t flaky (like Ritz), but are delightfully light and crunchy, yet still sturdy enough for dipping. And did I mention they taste great?
Crushed bacon adds flavor and texture. Make sure you cook the bacon until it’s extra-crispy. I pan fry mine, then wrap it in paper towels and microwave for a minute or two and shake the bacon out onto another piece of paper towel to cool. Crush with a rolling pin or use a sharp blade – either a knife or an ulu – to make small crumbs.
½ cup finely crushed bacon - about 10 strips (reserve the grease)
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
¼ cup oil (I use peanut oil)
½ cup buttermilk
¼ cup water
Heat oven to 425 F.
Grease two baking sheets with bacon grease (or you may use shortening if you prefer)
In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, garlic salt, onion powder, pepper, brown sugar, and crushed bacon.
Stir in the liquid smoke, oil, buttermilk, and water. Mix until well combined. This will be a soft dough, but shouldn't be sticky.
Working with half of the dough at a time, either roll between two pieces of parchment (flour dough lightly if necessary) or roll directly onto the baking sheet, dusting the top with flour as needed.. Try to roll the dough out as thinly as possible...less than ⅛-inch. You may cut round shapes out, re-rolling the extra dough, or simply cut into squares or diamonds, using a pizza cutter.
Place pans in preheated oven for 4 minutes. Remove both pans. Brush the tops of the crackers with bacon grease (or butter, if you prefer) and lightly salt. Using a spatula, flip the crackers over.
TURN OFF THE OVEN. Open the door for 20 seconds. Place pans back in the oven, close the door, and leave the crackers to cook slowly for 1 hour, as the oven cools down. Check one to make sure it snaps crisply when broken. If not, leave them in the oven for another 30 minutes.
Brush with bacon grease, sprinkle with salt, flip over, and return to oven.
Do you have any idea how good these would be with my Succulent Salmon Dip? I’d leave the bacon out of the dip (unless you’re a really hardcore bacon fan) and offer a knife to spread the dip on each cracker. Ham spread would be yummy too.
Okay – this was my obligatory savory recipe before I go into full-blown Easter mode. I’ve stocked up on powdered sugar, chocolate, and sprinkles…and will be putting it all to good use soon!
Last week I told you my next post would be Valentine’s Day related, but that was before the Seattle Seahawks won the game that will send them to the Super Bowl. Again.
Valentine’s Day will just have to wait. I have footballs to make!
Beer is a must for the big game of course, and beer and pretzels just go together. Since filling these little football-shaped pretzels with cheese sounded good, I decided that filling them with ham and cheese sounded even better.The nice thing about this recipe is that it’s so flexible. Add hot sauce or onions, skip the ham, try different types of cheese. Make the filling your own!
Of course, the bombs can be made in nice little round shapes – but for the big game I wanted footballs. In my first batch there were about half that would be easily recognized as footballs, and half that were…well…deflated. (Dare I say that? Sorry, Patriots fans! The deflated ball jokes have been flying all week.) Cheese will ooze, and personally I love the crispy bits of baked cheese that stick to the bottom of the footballs. For the sake of appearance, however, I experimented. A lot.
I thought that maybe a longer boil would toughen the outside, keeping the cheese in as they baked. I seemed to have at least as many blow-outs, so my assumption was flawed. Because there was no “give” as the footballs baked, the cheese simply found a weak spot and broke through.
I tried a very short boil, with the theory that the footballs would remain more flexible, and give when pressured by the cheese. The cheese still blew out. Stiffer dough, softer dough, hotter bake temperature, lower bake temperature. Vent holes. I found that mozzarella is a little more explosive than cheddar, and using half of each helped a bit. I think I tried it all – at least everything I could think of.
The bottom line is this: CHEESE OOZE HAPPENS. Embrace it. Leave the crispy bits attached to the bombs…people will still love them.
They ain’t purty, but they taste just fine!
Beer and brown sugar add a little extra flavor to the pretzel dough, and an egg wash adds a pretty sheen. This recipe makes about 64 small bombs. Remember, that’s going to be about 30 attractive footballs. The rest should be immediately eaten for quality control purposes (wink wink). The bombs can be wrapped in foil and popped in the freezer after they’ve baked and cooled; they reheat beautifully. Or make 32 larger two-bite-size bombs.
It would be ideal if you had a helper, because two people would make this process a lot easier. One can be forming footballs while the other is boiling and baking. I did it by myself, so it’s do-able, but if you can bribe or enlist someone, I recommend it!
The dough is so easy to make. It’s a nice, sturdy dough that can be manhandled without causing any problems. Here’s the recipe:
Delicious little pretzel bites filled with ham and cheese. Don't expect them all to be pretty; they will ooze cheese, and some will take on interesting shapes! Embrace the crispy escaped cheese - that's the best part! Makes 60-64.
1 can (12 oz) beer
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 package active dry yeast
3 tablespoons softened butter
1 tablespoon firmly packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons salt
4 cups bread flour
6 ounces grated cheddar cheese (about 1½ cups)
6 ounces grated mozzarella cheese (about 1½ cups)
1 ounce cream cheese, softened
1 5-ounce can cooked ham chunks, drained, OR ½ cup (or more to taste) finely chopped cooked ham
½- 1 teaspoon Sriracha hot chili sauce
8 cups water
½ cup baking soda
1 egg whisked together with 1 teaspoon water (egg wash)
Pour beer into a small pan and heat until very warm - about 110 degrees.
In a large bowl (a standing mixer with a bread hook is best) combine the warm beer, white sugar, and yeast. Allow the mixture to sit 6-8 minutes, or until bubbly.
Add softened butter, brown sugar, salt, and 3 cups of the bread flour. Mix well.
Slowly add remaining flour, a little at a time, until the dough comes cleanly away from the side of the bowl and is not sticky to the touch. You are looking for a fairly stiff dough, but not dry. Dry dough is very hard to seal when you're making the footballs.
Knead for 6 minutes by machine, or 8 minutes by hand on lightly floured surface.
Shape dough into a ball and place in a large greased bowl, turning several times to coat the dough. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise in a warm place until doubled - about 1 hour. WHILE THE DOUGH IS RISING:
Cover two baking sheets with parchment and set aside.
Combine the cheese, ham, and hot sauce. Mix together very well. Go ahead and use your hands to knead it into a solid mass. Since your hands are already messy, save time later by rolling 64 balls of cheese mixture, about 1 teaspoon each. You may have a little left over. Save it for topping a casserole or for a grilled cheese sandwich!
When dough has doubled heat oven to 400 F.
Work with half of the dough at a time, leaving the other half covered. Separate dough into ½ ounce pieces (approximately 1 tablespoon). Roll into balls and flatten into rounds with the bottom of a heavy glass or a rolling pin.
Place one cheese ball in the center of each piece of dough and bring the edges up over the cheese. Pinch the dough firmly. Really....pinch the heck out of it! Roll briskly but gently between your hands. If you see a crack, pinch it and roll again. Roll either side of the ball firmly to create pointed ends if you are making football shapes.
Bring water and baking soda to a boil in a large tall saucepan and then lower the heat a little to get a gentle boil
Drop 8-10 footballs into the boiling water at a time. Allow them to boil for 30-40 seconds. Remove with slotted spoon or spider, and place onto prepared cookie sheets.
Using a razor blade (I used an X-Acto knife) or a very sharp paring knife, cut two short parallel lines in the top of each football, with a line in between. (Imagine a capital letter "I", laying on its side.) This will represent the laces. (If you want to get fancy, you can cut little laces too.) Be careful not to cut all the way through the dough or you are certain to have the cheese blow out the top! Note: If you are making round shapes instead of footballs, Cut a shallow "X" in each ball.
Brush with egg wash and sprinkle lightly with coarse salt.
Bake approximately 10-12 minutes, or until a rich brown.
If you followed along as a group of us bloggers teamed up to bring you the 12 Cakes of Christmas, you already know that we are a crazy bunch of gals who inspire each other to greatness. Well…we try!
Once the holidays were over we realized that we just didn’t want to leave the party, so we decided to pick a theme every month and create recipes to match the theme. This month is Dippin’ Through January!
Football games just demand dips, and we have you covered.
Today is my day, and since I was born and raised in Seattle, AND since the Seahawks are going to the Superbowl (squeeee) I went all out and made a delicious salmon dip and a big french bread football bowl to serve it in. Fill it up and put the top back on until you’re ready to serve…then tear it up and use the chunks of bread to scoop up the dip. Here’s my easy recipe for a Football Dip Bowl. And, of course, the recipe for salmon dip!
This is enough to make at least 8 hungry people very happy.
1½ pounds cooked salmon (canned is fine!)
8 ounces neufchatel or cream cheese
1 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)
3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced very fine
4 slices thick bacon, chopped and cooked
1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
6 green onions, sliced thinly
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large bowl, combine salmon, neufchatel cheese, mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke, and garlic. Mix well using a sturdy wooden spoon or (if you don't mind the mess) your hands. Don't use a food processor - it will ruin the texture and turn the dip into baby food!
Stir in the bacon, lemon juice, green onions, and seasoning. Spoon into dip bowl.