A few weeks ago, Boyfriend and I had dinner at Perbacco in NYC. While we were enjoying our wine, the waiter brought a a basket of crisp, frail little breadsticks. They were absolutely adorable, and entirely addictive – until I bit into one flavored with anise seed.
I’ve never liked black licorice. I eat around black jelly beans, I can’t stand Jäger, and I don’t eat fennel. It’s such a bizarre taste to me – oddly sweet, but immensely pungent and overbearing. And it tastes a little like medicine. Boyfriend, in his continued quest to eat literally everything, loves black licorice. When I returned from Italy last year, one of the foods I brought back was a comically long string of red licorice. While he chomped away on it, I bemoaned the fact that it had takened me days to find one that wasn’t the dreaded black licorice – and he asked me why I bothered, since he likes them both equally. And I can honestly say that he might be the only person I’ve ever met for whom that is true.
Anyway, since I knew he’d like it, I gave the rest of the offending breadstick to him. But because I’m a glutton for punishment, I tried another one a few minutes later…and I didn’t hate it. I mean, I didn’t love it, but I didn’t spit it into my napkin either. Intrigued by the idea that this spice might grow on me if I kept trying it, I bought a jar of anise seed the following week and used it to flavor the cheddar cheese cracker recipe I’d been eyeing for months.
I want to be clear here: these are essentially Cheez Its. Handmade, grown up Cheez-It’s, but Cheez-It’s none the less. This is, in part, why I adore them. My family has an odd fascination with Cheez-It’s, and having the ability to quickly and easily create them without any of the unpronounceable ingredients is an opportunity I intend to take full advantage of from here on out.
Cheddar Cheese Crackers
Adapted from my beloved Gourmet, may it rest in peace
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese (about 1/4 lb.)
1 cup flour (I used whole wheat, but regular, AP flour will work, too)
3/4 stick butter, cut into tablespoons
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp milk
1/8 tsp ground anise seed
Preheat oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Pulse cheese, flour, butter, salt, and anise in the food processor until it forms a coarse meal. Add milk and pulse until the mixture forms a dough.
Turn dough out onto a floured surface and roll to 1/8 inch thickness. Using a knife or pizza cutter, slice dough into 1 inch by 1 inch crackers. Lay crackers on baking sheet, leaving a little space between. Bake until golden: about 15 minutes.
Remove the crackers from the baking sheet, and allow them to cool on paper towels. Once they have cooled, store in an airtight container (mine are still good on day 7).