brown sugar graham crackers (part one of two)

brown sugar graham crackers.

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?

brown sugar graham crackers.

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.

brown sugar graham crackers.

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.

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  • Reply natalie @ wee eats January 30, 2013 at 12:42 pm

    I’m crazy for graham crackers. I can eat a whole box in one sitting (shameful, I know) and OMG LIKE I DIDN’T ALREADY HAVE ENOUGH THINGS THAT I WANTED TO MAKE THIS WEEKEND!!!

    OMG these look so good and I have like 23482934 bags of marshmallows that I got to make s’mores with, but have already consumed all of the graham crackers in the house (with copious amounts of peanut butter)

    Ok. I think I need to schedule my baking for February and March, like, now.

    • Reply shannon February 3, 2013 at 3:36 pm

      I knew – just KNEW – when i made these that this was going to turn into a s’more for you. Nailed it! 🙂

      here’s what i was thinking: i’m going to do these again and FILL THEM WITH S’MORES ICE CREAM. which i will make using crushed homemade grahams. mind = blown. you may need to lie down.

      • Reply natalie @ wee eats February 5, 2013 at 11:43 am

        Ohmygod. You know the commercial for the cell phone and they’re making fun of the iphone and he’s like “PCKHHOW” with his brain? That’s me right now. My mind is TOTALLY blown … My future is so filled with recipes, I think I’ll have to save it for…. April maybe? hahaha!

        • Reply shannon February 9, 2013 at 7:04 am

          LOL YEEESSS i know what commercial that is (and i can actually see your brain doing that over these). April seems like a good month for them, right? i’m stockpiling recipes too…it’s like i have so many, and they’re all so good i can’t narrow them down…aaaaagh. food blogger problems. we all need 36 hour days.

  • Reply Jessica January 30, 2013 at 1:13 pm

    Thank you for the tip on finding graham flour. I’ve been looking for it to no avail at every Whole Foods and co-op I can find and it’s never there, even though it’s supposedly readily available. The secret is in the fine print! Thank you! And these look great, and once I go back to the store and get my whole wheat/graham flour I’ll be making them…

    • Reply shannon February 3, 2013 at 3:35 pm

      no problem, Jessica! Happy to help. I sent Mr. Table out to look for it and he looked everywhere and said he couldn’t find it, but i knew i had seen it before. When i went out, i realized why he overlooked it; they should really label it a little better, in my opinion. I hope you love these.

  • Reply Amy @ Elephant Eats January 30, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    These look so professional! I’m very impressed. You know, I don’t think I’ve ever really just eaten a graham cracker plain- usually they’re part of a S’more or crushed into crumbs. They look really yummy though! Also, is it dumb that i didn’t know graham crackers were made with graham flour? I didnt know such a thing existed, and I neve really thought about how they might have gotten their name…

    • Reply shannon February 3, 2013 at 3:34 pm

      thanks amy! it’s all in the cookie cutters; probably the only way i could cut them straight (i tend to veer with a knife/pizza cutter.) i wonder if i’m in the minority with plain grahams from a box: that was a go-to kid snack with milk when i was little, so is that a regional thing? hmmm. it was like a kid staple.
      i never really put two and two together about “graham” crackers using “graham” flour because i too didn’t realize there was such a thing; i always thought it was maybe a process. turns out, it’s just whole wheat flour and it IS named for a person (there’s a story on the back of my graham flour bag), and it is a sort of process he used.

  • Reply Sue/the view from great island January 30, 2013 at 7:11 pm

    These look insane. All I can think about is pairing them up with my homemade marshmallows and a square of bittersweet chocolate, then a few seconds in the microwave and…..ahhhhhhh!

    • Reply shannon February 3, 2013 at 3:31 pm

      you know, s’mores with these…i can’t even think about it without feeling the urge to run (run!) out and get the ingredients for homemade marshmallows and some bittersweet chocolate. you just totally fancied up my grahams! yum…what a perfect year-round treat, for sure.

  • Reply Faygie Moorvitch January 31, 2013 at 11:57 am

    And here I thought I was the only one who won’t ever bake more than one shhet of cookies at a time 🙂

    • Reply shannon February 3, 2013 at 3:25 pm

      do you do the same thing?!?!?! it’s one of my superstitions, and i think all bakers have them. i just refuse to do it, even if i’m just making cookies for myself; they don’t turn out the same, right? They don’t. i guess that’s all in heat distribution and amount of things to bake at once, but i never understand why cookbooks have you do more than one at a time.

  • Reply Ashley January 31, 2013 at 12:04 pm

    These are going to happen. I have graham flour (part of my “I love to buy anything interesting I see, so my pantry is way too full” escapades), and you make them so temptingly easy! Plus I haven’t had a good graham cracker in…well, my lifetime? They sound like they’re going to rock my world. Bam!

    • Reply shannon February 3, 2013 at 3:23 pm

      ashley, i’m surprised my pantry hasn’t caved in on itself; same reason! 🙂 flours especially…i think i may have every kind. I promise you, these aren’t hard, and i’m so happy about this because it means i can make these for the Wee One (who LOVES THEM) more often. They totally rock; i can’t wait until you try them!

  • Reply movita beaucoup January 31, 2013 at 5:39 pm

    Here’s the thing: I don’t like graham crackers. And I don’t do graham crusts. But these? I think I’d actually consider eating one. Or four. That, my friend, is saying a lot. I WOULD EAT GRAHAM CRACKERS FOR YOU. Or because of you? Whatever. Maybe I’ll be a graham convert…

    • Reply shannon February 3, 2013 at 3:17 pm

      this is like, earthshattering for me; i’ve never heard someone say to me “i don’t like graham crackers.” how did i not know this about you? more importantly, how do you make 7-layer/hello dolly bars? IT’S ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT LAYERS.

      There is a strong possibility you would like these. They’re not at all like store-bought graham crackers; not dry, not crumbly. they’re like a cinnamon cookie? With the crispness of a good gingersnap. i urge you…maybe just make them, and if you hate them, pawn them off on those neighbors of yours.

  • Reply Jen @JuanitasCocina January 31, 2013 at 6:35 pm

    Linda likes to spread butter on her graham crackers. I totally would NOT let her do that with these. In fact, I probably won’t share.

    • Reply shannon February 3, 2013 at 3:14 pm

      BUTTER. (share my perplexed face with linda, please.) i have NEVER heard of that. but i’m fascinated.

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