Monday, February 4, 2013

Cheese Wafers with Lemon and Pepper

Butter, flour, lemon zest -- this starts out sounding like a recipe for shortbread squares (link), but it's not. Add grated cheese instead of sugar and you have a savory treat, a wafer that's more of a cracker than a cookie. Not that I have anything against sweet shortbread cookies, good grief I've devoured pounds of them with enthusiasm, but I do have a weakness for all things savory. This particular batch of cheese wafers lasted roughly 30 hours, until I ate the last few just minutes ago. Yes, that was my 1:30 a.m. snack when I couldn't fall sleep and wandered up to the pilothouse to fire up the computer.

At first bite you can taste cheese with a hint of pepper, then a surprising lemony tang comes through, just strong enough to notice but not overwhelm the tastebuds. Parmesan wafers are excellent nibblies to accompany a cup of tea or a glass of wine. Served plain they are quite delicious, but I love them topped with a dab of Rosemary Flavored Jammy Wine Sauce (link) as well. 

This batch incorporated pre grated parmesan cheese, a Costco purchase that I had stored in the boat freezer. RL prefers a sharp cheddar cheese version of the same recipe. Guests have enjoyed blue cheese wafers topped with mango chutney. Pepper jack with a hit of pimenton is another tempting option. Cheese wafers are versatile and delicious, require few ingredients and come together quickly - so what are you waiting for? Bake a batch soon.

Lemony Peppery Cheese Wafers

1 1/2 cups finely grated fresh Parmesan (about 1/4 pound)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
freshly grated zest of 1 large lemon
3/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper 
juice of 1 large lemon, roughly 2.5 to 3 tablespoons
additional coarsely ground black pepper for sprinkling the crackers (optional)

  1. In a bowl of a food processor add the Parmesan, flour, chunks of cold butter, lemon zest and black pepper. Pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the lemon juice and process until it just forms a dough. 
  2. Transfer the dough ball to a sheet of wax paper, and using the wax paper as a guide form it into an 11- by 1 1/2-inch log. Chill the dough, wrapped in the wax paper, for 1 hour, or until it is firm enough to slice. (Or make ahead up to 2 days in advance and keep well-wrapped and chilled.)
  3. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Cut the dough into  slices, 1/4-inch-thick or thinner. Arrange the slices 1 inch apart on baking sheets, sprinkle them with the additional pepper and bake them in batches in the upper third of the oven for 10 minutes, or until golden around the edges. Transfer the crackers carefully with a spatula to a rack and let them cool. They will firm up a bit as they cool, so don't overbake.

  4. Yield: Makes about 44 crackers

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