I am a sucker for cheese and crackers, cheese and wine, cheese and bread… you get the picture. Last Summer I made my own crackers for the first time (stay tuned for the original cracker recipe) and it was a revelation. They were fun to make, easy and delicious. These Parmesan Thyme Crackers are no exception.
My wonderful boyfriend, Lars, got me tickets to an outdoor Gipsy Kings concert at Ravinia for my birthday. I was so excited! I have loved the Gipsy Kings for about 15 years and always wanted to see them in concert. My brother, Jay, introduced me to them after he studied abroad in Spain for a semester. If you are not familiar with them, they are a bunch of middle-aged dudes with gravelly voices singing catchy songs in Spanish. I like to think I can sing along although I have no idea what they are saying. I was pretty convinced they were from Spain but I learned at the concert that they are actually from the South of France. Who knew? Anyway, the best part about Ravinia is the picnic before the show on the lawn. Since this was Lars’ first time to Ravinia I wanted to make sure it was a great experience. I started planning the menu weeks ago. Critical stuff! Below is the spread. Please imagine everything in classy serving containers rather than the plastic. It is just not efficient to travel with pottery.
I found this Parmesan Thyme Cracker recipe in one of my favorite Barefoot Contessa cookbooks, Back to Basics. All of her books are fantastic. I have never made a recipe from Ina that disappoints. I pretty much followed the recipe except I used a food processor and eyeballed the cheese amount. Who really knows how to measure freshly grated parmesan? Do you pack it in the measuring cup or let it loosely fill it? Perhaps weigh it on a kitchen scale? I went with the “I am tired of grating” measuring method. Let’s be honest, you won’t say…. Hmmm… these have too much parmesan. The dough was pretty crumbly so I added water, a tablespoon at a time, until it came together.
The crackers smell so lovely baking in the oven. They were the perfect pairing to a glass of chilled champagne. We had a lot left over after Ravinia and they kept nicely in the refrigerator. I decided to re-purpose them at a dinner party over the weekend, as seen in the first picture. We topped them with a little crème fraiche and black truffle pate. So scrumptious! I plan on devoting an entire blog post to black truffle pate. It is amazing.
The perfect tune pairing for the Parmesan Thyme Crackers is Volare by The Gipsy Kings. This is probably their second most popular song, after Bamboleo. Their Best Of album is pretty fantastic. I never get tired of listening to them!
**Please excuse the less-than-stellar photography. I am going to work on my styling... and maybe not take all the pictures on my phone.
Parmesan Thyme Crackers
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa's Back to Basics Cookbook
- ¼ pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 4 ounces freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 cup)
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or food processor, cream the butter for 1 minute. With the mixer/food processor on low speed, add the Parmesan, thyme, salt, and pepper and combine. With the mixer/processor still on low, add the flour and combine until the mixture is in large crumbles, about 1 minute. If the dough is too dry, add 1 teaspoon water. Keep adding water until dough comes together.
Dump the dough onto a floured surface, press it into a ball, and roll into a 9-inch log. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or for up to 4 days.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the log into 3/8-inch-thick rounds with a small, sharp knife and place them 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.
Top crackers with creme fraiche and black truffle pate. Best if served with chilled champagne!