Friday, August 19, 2011

The Perfect Nibble: Blue Cheese and Walnut Crackers

Blue Cheese and Walnut Crackers
The other day I decided to shop my refrigerator.  Translation:  I did (a rather quick) once-over for inspiration and ideas for using up the myriad ingredients that were in store.  Almost instantly, my eyes fell on the blue cheese I had bought a little while back and the walnuts that I typically keep on hand.  And what happened next was pure decadence.

Marrying these two ingredients into a simple, yet indulgent, recipe was about to become a fete accompli--and the spawn of some satiating snacking.  I had been wanting to bake these crackers since I discovered the recipe way back when, and now, with the star ingredients on hand, the time had come.  In a matter of sheer minutes, I had the beautiful, sky blue, walnut-encrusted dough ready for its chill down.  And since it was a late-night start, I baked them off the next day.

I've been trying to pace myself with each salty, tangy, nutty, buttery bite.  While simple to make, these crackers carry a delicious intermix of flavors that makes each bite somehow more delectable than the last.  And to add to their grandness, I serve them with a perfectly sweet offset of fig jam.  It's the salty-sweet, crumbly-smooth, heavenly contrast that yields the perfect nibble.

Easily their own 'cheese and cracker' plate, they are a great addition for cocktail and tea parties, appetizer courses, or my own personal favorite--anytime indulgence.

Happy Eating!

Blue Cheese and Walnut Crackers

1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 ounces blue cheese, crumbled, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 extra-large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water for egg wash
1/2 cup roughly chopped walnuts

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and blue cheese together for 1 minute, or until smooth. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour, salt and pepper and mix until it's in large crumbles, about 1 minute. Add 1 tablespoon of water and mix until combined. 

Dump the dough onto a floured board, press it into a ball, and roll into a 12-inch long log. Brush the log completely with the egg wash. Spread the walnuts in a square on a cutting board and roll the log back and forth in the walnuts, pressing lightly, and distributing them evenly on the outside of the log. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or for up to 4 days.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut the log 3/8ths-inch thick with a small, sharp knife and place the crackers on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Bake for 22 minutes until very lightly browned. Rotate the pan once during baking. Cool and serve at room temperature. Store in an air-tight container to maintain freshness.

Recipe courtesy of Ina Garten 


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