I promised you graham crackers, and graham crackers you shall receive. This is part one of a two-part series on how to make some pretty excellent (and might I add, Valentine’s Day worthy) ice cream sandwiches. Even if you don’t end up making the buttermilk-raspberry ice cream I have coming up for you in part two, these are fitting for whatever you’d like to do with them. Eat them alongside your coffee, or hot chocolate, or whatever; I just ask that if you DO make ice cream sandwiches with them (and you’re not making your own ice cream), you buy the best you can find to do them justice.
Because these beautiful, simple little grahams deserve that, at the very least. Have you ever made homemade graham crackers before? I promise you, you’ll never think the same way about the store-bought ones. Sure, you’ll buy them to pulverize for graham crust, but I bet you’ll think twice before eating them on their own. Am I ripping on the premade variety? Not at all; but it’s the same way I feel about chocolate chip cookies. Why, when both of these things are so ridiculously easy to make, would you waste hard-earned calories on a boxed version?
And these are truly so, so simple. It’s like making a roll-out sugar cookie, only even less work, if you can believe that. The dough is supremely easy to roll out – it’s not sticky, it doesn’t crack, and it has a really nice heft to it which keeps it together quite nicely. All you have to do is trim off the ends and use a pizza cutter and a ruler (or a square cookie cutter, as I did) to make the individual cookies, sprinkle some cinnamon sugar, and off they go to the oven.
A word of warning: doughs like this aren’t “wet” to begin with, so watch overcooking them. They will harden as they cool, so if anything, take them out before you start to see any color on them, and watch them carefully using my timing below.
Also, throw that ice cream mixer in your freezer if you need to (as I have to do with my KitchenAid attachment). Tomorrow, it’s buttermilk raspberry swirl ice cream time, and you won’t want to wait any longer than you have to.
I have quite a few things to get to on the blog. After a highly unusual run of successful recipes, I’ve got tons to share with you, so please excuse me while I crank up the music here and begin to sift through the writing of it all.
Adapted from Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones: 90 Recipes for Making Your Own Ice Cream and Frozen Treats from Bi-Rite Creamery by Kris Hoogerhyde, Anne Walker, and Dabney Gough. A cookbook I am having an immensely good time with, let me tell you. I have a feeling it’s speeding up to the top of my favorites list.
Brown Sugar Graham Crackers
- scant 1 2/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
- 1 1/3 cups graham flour (I use Hodgson Mill brand, which is labeled “whole wheat flour” in large print, but is actually, as you read the fine print, graham flour. Search for it.)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2/3 cup tightly packed light brown sugar (use dark if you wish, but I liked the light for this)
- 1/4 cup good quality honey
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- In a large bowl, whisk together both flours, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
Make the grahams:
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, brown sugar, and honey, beating on high speed until fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the flour mixture, mixing on the lowest speed just until the dough comes together, about 30 seconds, scraping down your bowl at the halfway point.
Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and use your spatula to poke through it, lifting from the sides and bottom to make sure there are no dry spots. If there are, use your spatula to incorporate them. Transfer the dough onto a waiting piece of plastic wrap (and wow, do you not ever want to mess with plastic wrap mid-dough transfer, so do that part ahead of time) and shape into a flat, 7-inch square. Wrap tightly and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, until firm. It will keep for up to 5 days in the fridge at this point.
Bake the grahams:
Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Note: if you want to be more efficient about it, line two sheets with parchment paper. I never bake off more than one sheet at a time (a combination of superstition and experience), but you can work on portioning out your grahams onto Sheet 2 while Sheet 1 bakes.
In a small bowl, combine the granulated sugar and the cinnamon. Whisk until evenly colored, then set aside.
On a very lightly floured surface, roll out your dough square to somewhere between 1/8-inch and 1/4-inch thickness, trying to get it as close to 1/8-inch as you can. Work slowly: It’s a dry dough, so don’t apply lots of weight to it. Be gentle and work from the center out, using your palms/fingers to maintain the square shape as you go.
Using either a sharp, thin knife, a pizza cutter, or a square cookie cutter, cut out your grahams. If you’re doing the knife or pizza cutter method, measure the final length and width of your rolled-out dough before you cut to strategize the best size to make them. My cutter was a 2 1/2 inch square, and I thought the size was perfect, although the book recommends a 3-inch square. Unless you’re making crazy-tiny or crazy-big grahams, the size shouldn’t have much effect on the cooking time.
Transfer your grahams to the prepared sheet pan, about a 1/2 inch apart (they don’t puff, really). Sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar mixture and poke little holes in them with a toothpick if you must be cute (I did 4 pokes each). Bake the cookies for 14-17 minutes total, checking at around the 12-minute mark to see how they’re doing. Rotate them if needed, and then really watch the first batch especially to see that they don’t start to darken. Remove them and transfer the entire sheet to a wire rack to cool. Do not, under any circumstances, try to remove them from the sheet while hot: they’re not hardened yet, and you will have a graham disaster on your hands.
Makes around 20 grahams, but that’s entirely dependent on how thin you roll them out and also how large your grahams are.