Crackers are my snack weakness. I never have less than three (or four) different kinds in my pantry. And while I limit buying and eating processed foods, I make an exception for store-bought crackers. I just love them too much. And let’s face it, they’re convenient to have around. Store-bought crackers are great as the trusted saviors of many a dinner party appetizer, but homemade crackers are special. I don’t try my baking hand at them nearly enough which is a shame because they’re so easy and fun to make. After seeing these on Marilena Leavitt’s Instagram feed a few weeks ago, I knew I had to make them. Marilena made hers with cheddar cheese, but I wanted to put an Italian spin on them, so I modified her recipe into Asiago cheese crackers with huge (and tasty) success.
Asiago is a raw cow’s milk cheese from the Asiago plateau in the north-eastern region of Veneto. The milk for Asiago comes primarily from the Pezzata Nera and Bruno Alpina cattle. There are three types of Asiago cheese: asiago d’allevo which is matured in mountain dairies with milk from two milkings and is aged for at least three months. The second type is aged over nine months and referred to as vecchio. A more mature variety called stravecchio is aged for nineteen months or more and takes on a hard and grainy texture as it ages, which is perfect for grating over pasta and polenta. A third and more recent type known as asiago pressato uses pasteurized milk, is aged twenty days, and yields a less pungent cheese.
The dough for these crackers couldn’t be any easier to make or work with. If you’re new to dough-making, this recipe is a great one to start with. It comes together quickly in the food processor and doesn’t require any resting or chilling. It’s also versatile and can be made with different cheeses for flavor variety. In addition to Asiago, you could also use Parmigiano-Reggiano, Grana Padano, Gruyère, Cheddar, or Gorgonzola. Cheeses with stronger flavors will yield flavorful crackers. I had fun cutting the dough into small bite-size rounds, but they could also be cut into strips with a decorative pastry wheel. Regardless of how you cut the dough, you’ll get plenty of crackers to enjoy, and they won’t last long!
Asiago Cheese Crackers
Adapted from Marilena’s Kitchen
These crackers are wonderfully versatile and can be made with a variety of cheeses such as Parmigiano-Reggiano, Cheddar, or Gorgonzola, so feel free to experiment with your favorite cheese.
1½ cups (160 grams) grated Asiago cheese
1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
6 Tablespoons (84 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1½ Tablespoons (22 mL) milk (whole or 2%)
Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Set oven racks in upper and lower thirds of the oven.
Place the cheese, flour, butter, salt, and cayenne pepper in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add in the milk and pulse until the dough comes together and forms a ball.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and roll out into a circle (or rectangle) about 1/8-inch thick. Cut into desired shapes using a sharp knife, fluted pasta cutter, or a cookie cutter. If cutting into strips, keep them at ½-inch width. Scraps can be re-rolled once.
Transfer the dough shapes to 2-3 baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing them ½-inch apart. Bake the crackers for approximately 15 minutes until light golden, rotating the baking sheets halfway through the cooking time. Remove from the oven and cool the crackers completely on the baking sheets set on top of cooling racks.
Storage: Store crackers in an airtight container and eat within 2 days for best texture and flavor.