Didn’t I just say I was too busy to be posting recipes? Well, I am but I guess old habits are hard to break. I’m staying up late to get this one posted, since I promised it yesterday.
I made two batches of these b/c I used mild cheddar on the first and they didn’t have enough flavor–spicy but bland, if that’s possible. The second batch was perfect and I shipped it to my spicy-food-loving sister-in-law for her birthday, along with some of Laura’s Cherry Crumble Bars & some Nutty Toffee Popcorn. The funny thing is that I gave the bad batch to my parents (not because I was seeking some sort of retribution, but because I don’t like to waste and know that Dad will eat anything) and they liked them so much they asked me to make them for the pig-prep night before our family’s annual Pig Roast reunion (we all just sit around–most drinking beer–while snacking and watching the men inject flavor solution into the pig, among other unappealing things).
You can adjust the spiciness to suit your tastes. Use as little or as much red pepper as you dare!
from Bake Wise by Shirley O. Corriher
“Normally, you keep temperatures low when working with cheese so that it won’t separate, but in this case, the separation of the cheese makes the dish outstanding. The oven is so hot that the fat in the cheese separates out and goes into the crackers, making them incredibly flakey and crunchy.”
Non-stick cooking spray
One 15-oz box fat-free saltines (I used regular to no ill effect)
Fresh hot red pepper flakes (I used dried)
One 10-oz package Cracker Barrel extra-sharp cheddar, grated (you should use extra-sharp, but I don’t think the recipe would suffer if you used an 8 oz package of another brand)
Preheat oven to 475. Spray a jelly-roll pan measuring about 10×15 with nonstick spray. Arrange the crackers (about 40) in rows so that they are touching each other. One sleeve fits almost perfectly in this size pan and you will have abou three sleeves left in the box.
Sprinkle with pepper flakes and then top with the grated cheese.
Quickly place the pan in the oven and close the door. Leave the heat on for no more than 10 seconds, then turn the oven off. Leave in the closed oven for at least 2 hours. The hot oven melts and browns the cheese, producing an even crisp brown coating. The fat from the cheese soaks into the crackers and puffs them sligtly. Leaving them in the oven also dries them out, so they become super crunchy. Break apart and serve, or store for several weeks sealed in an airtight container.
Veronica’s notes: The first time the crackers were very crisp and the second time they weren’t crisp enough after two hours. This is due to using less cheese the first time and leaving the first batch in the oven well over two hours. If your crackers don’t easily break apart after 2 hours, I’d recommend just putting them back in the oven until they’re super crispy.