Just an FYI, this will be the only post for Full Fork Ahead this week. Poor sis blogging partner isn’t feeling well, so please send her some well-wishes. I was going to take up the undying flame and make a yummy homemade tomato soup – well, I hope it’ll be yummy – but then my kidlet started getting sick this past weekend. I’m a little stressed out lately so I figured, with all the sicklies going down, screw it – I’m taking a break too. We’ll make the soup next time. ‘Tis the season for sicklies and resting. Hope you all are either not getting sick or are on the mend or maybe just taking some time for you.
So now you know.
In the meantime, we’re bringing you our last contribution to the festive Halloween scene this year. This came out of a terrific October issue for Everyday Food Magazine, which I’m increasingly loving with each new issue. Have you ever wanted to make a recipe merely because the title of it pulled you in? I wanted to make these adorable-sounding crackers. But then I hoped they’d actually taste good, too.
I almost forgot to mention – the puff pastry’s back, baby! I guess we are going to have to try to make this stuff rom scratch one day. Soon it shall be the only option left as we’re getting pretty far into our Making of all Things with Puff Pastry. Aka, cheaters. These crackers are cheats, in a way.
But it’s all good. Sometimes cheating in the kitchen is a good thing.
The only tricky part about puff pastry is it needs to be worked with quickly in this kind of recipe, where we’ll be cutting out shapes. It has loooooots of butter in it, so when it comes closer to room temperature, it will want to stick to whatever surface it’s on. Think you’ve got enough flour between it and said surface? You might need a little more, just be aware. Keep any other sheets of puff pastry, thawed, in the fridge till absolutely ready to use.
I’ve, uh, cussed at this stuff before. Just saying.
This recipe comes with three ideas for seasoning the crackers. Well, two, actually: poppy seeds, a paprika/Parmesan cheese blend and plain. You divide the pastry visually into thirds and go from there.
My one tip for this recipe: mix a little fine salt into the poppy seed and paprika mixture. I wished they’d been at least slightly salty once we tasted ours. Adding that in as optional in the recipe below.
Have a little flour in a bowl on standby that is big enough to dip your cookie cutters into, just in case the dough does get a little hard to work with. But as quickly as possible, begin cutting out your scaredy shapes and place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
It’s kind of fun to get the “mistakes” too, where a little of one of both of the flavors has overlapped onto the plain a little. Kind of looks neat!
Once we got the hang of the dough being the right temperature and all, these were quite fun. If your dough is getting too warm? Put it back in the fridge for a bit and get it back out again later. No biggie!
Before baking, place another sheet of parchment paper on top of the crackers, then another cookie sheet on top of that to weight down the dough, so it doesn’t actually puff up.
Oh hey, found another tip – your top cookie sheet might not be heavy enough to weight down the pastry! You can place a couple of small casseroles or one big one on top of that to help the crackers stay an actual cracker thickness.
One last tip – because these have lots of butter in the pastry, they can burn easily, and with the added weight on top of them, it’s even easier for them to burn. Which we learned the hard way. We bumped the oven down from what the original recipe had it and did so in the recipe below.
These were a hit with all the adults that day, but not so much with my kidlet. You might think of some alternative seasonings for the kiddos (Maybe cinnamon sugar for a sweeter side?), but the recipe as-is makes them so cute. As noted above, I’d just add a little salt to punch up the flavors a bit more. These would make a really cute addition to any Halloween spread. Enjoy!
From Everyday Food Magazine, October 2012
Prep Time: 1 hour (includes thawing for pastry) Cook Time: 10-12 minutes per cookie sheet Level: easy Serves: 6-8
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- All-purpose flour, for work surface
- 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons poppy seeds
- salt, optional
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine Parmesan and paprika (and optional salt if using). On a floured surface, roll out puff pastry 1/8 inch thick and lightly brush with cream. Sprinkle Parmesan-paprika on one-third the pastry, then sprinkle poppy seeds over another third, sprinkling over that with a little salt, if using (leave remaining third plain). With cookie cutters, cut out cat and bat shapes (or cut into 1 1/2-inch squares).
Transfer to a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet, then cover with more parchment and another baking sheet (this will keep pastry from puffing). Bake until golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove top sheet and parchment and let crackers cool completely on sheet on a wire rack.
You might want to go ahead and thaw out two sheets of puff pastry as one isn’t going to make a lot of crackers. That is, if you’re making these for guests. Most puff pastry comes two to a box anyway.
There was enough of the paprika and Parmesan mixture for two sheets of pastry. Bet your shaker of poppy seeds will have plenty, too.
We bumped the original temp down from 425 degrees to 400 as our first batch burned like hell and whoa at 425. I know ovens vary, we remind folks of this all the time, but dang. You hate to see anything burn when following directions, so just be aware. Also, it’s worth it to haul the whole thing out and check them a couple of times if you have to, and bake them more if necessary.