Wow: New Year’s Eve already. I know everyone says that, but really…September was what, maybe three days ago? I don’t know how everyone’s fall/winter goes, but between lots of birthdays in October, my annual trip to Nashville to visit my sister, and the fall/winter holidays, it’s been one rush after another. In a good way, really, but busy. I look forward to the January slowdown. By now, I’ve completely blown any good eating habits I’ve developed over the past year and am aching for a normal, nothing-too-exciting routine.
So here we are, one more big party holiday this winter. And it falls on a weekend, which almost certainly means parties to attend, friends’ houses to swing by, and swanky get-togethers you host at your own place. I always feel like you need something special for a New Year’s party, food-wise.
By now, you can’t just slide by with the cookie tray; people are so entirely over cookies you risk making some guests ill at the very sight of an errant candy cane. One more sugar sprinkle and you could have a meltdown on your hands. And the savory food! All it’s been since November is heavy this, big stuffing that…it’s too much. Accept it: we are all a little over food right now, like it or not.
So I give you this: the Stilton and walnut cracker. Dress it up, dress it down, it’s perfect for right now. Why?
- it’s a baked good, yet bears no resemblance to “holiday food”
- it’s completely devoid of any sort of chocolate
- it’s savory, a little salty and has a nice bite to it; making it perfect for a beverage-dominated holiday
- it’s utterly portable; no toppings to slide off on to your super cute outfit
And, if you needed more reasons, it’s easy to make. Ahead of time. Even way ahead of time. Up to four days, to be exact. I have a second batch chilling as we speak. Am I worried about them? No. Because they’ll wait until I’m ready for them.
If you saw the chocolate peppermint wafers a week or two ago, it’s basically the same idea: Make dough, roll dough into two logs, wrap in wax paper, chill in fridge. The only extra step is rolling the logs (pre-chill) in chopped walnuts. Easy? SO easy. And for whatever reason, people tend to get really impressed by a homemade cracker. I don’t know why.
Once you bake these off, what you’ll have on your hands is a delicious treat. It doesn’t go overboard on the Stilton-y flavor at all; just gives you a nice complement to whatever it is you’re drinking. They’re buttery and rich enough to keep you nibbling away, but that’s it: you can’t inhale these. it’s not a Cheez-It, and it makes that abundantly clear. Another great thing: these taste just as good the next day (and the one after that), so don’t worry that you’ll be wasting food.
Whatever you’re doing on this last weekend of the year, have fun. Obviously be safe. Enjoy homemade fancy cheese crackers responsibly.
Adapted from How Easy is That? by Ina Garten.
Stilton + Walnut Crackers
- 1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
- 8 ounces Stilton cheese, crumbled (about 12 ounces with rind), at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 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 Stilton 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 two logs, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Feel free to make them a bit smaller or larger, depending on your preference. 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˚F.
Cut the log into 1/2-inch thick slices 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 (up to 3 days) in an airtight container.