As I kick off my holiday baking, I’ve decided to start with salty snacks rather than sweet, as that’s what I’m starting to crave after the first inundation of holiday treats.
And people, these crackers are something to talk about.
I debated whether or not to call these ‘crackers’ or ‘cookies’ as they certainly aren’t health food, and play on the concept of shortbread. In Finnish, the choice would be easier: ‘keksi’ for cookie and ‘suolakeski’, i.e. salty cookie, for cracker – so cookie either way.
The idea behind creating this is that I wanted a gluten-free cracker that I could serve them to anyone who came to visit. I wanted them to taste good all on their own, without any topping or accompaniment, as a cookie does, and also be able to play a role on the savory side of the table next to the cheeses, olives and antipasti. To add a tangy, salty flavor, I included chèvre, along with butter for a tender sweetness, and chopped fresh rosemary because I love the flavor, all wrapped up for delivery in buckwheat flour.
Despite its name, buckwheat is gluten-free: a fruit seed rather than a grain, related to the rhubarb family, with a subtle nutty sweetness and a beautiful, light texture. Buckwheat is a good source for manganese, copper, dietary fiber and phosphorus. It has two flavenoids, rutin and quercitin, that have strong health-promoting actions. On top of all that, it contains a high-quality protein with all eight essential amino acids, including lysine. The bottom line: it is good for your cardiovascular system, helps stabilize blood sugar, and like other whole grains and seeds, is good for heart health. What’s not to love?
Fresh out of the oven, these crackers bring the splendid smell of rosemary to the kitchen. Warm, you can taste the melding of butter and chèvre into a tender, subtle, pleasing flavor off of which the rosemary plays very nicely. Once cooled, they have a crispy bite with a slight tenderness to them that makes them wildly addictive.
I can imagine these, as hoped for, holding their own on a cheese platter or antipasti tray. But I can also picture them with a small spoonful of bilberry or blueberry jam; nestled next to a bowl of beet and goat cheese soup or beef stew; or, lined up all on their own as part of the sweet offering together with evening drinks, offering a welcome respite from the sugary confections on the table.
Whichever way it is you decide to serve them, they’ll surely be a welcome addition to your table.
Savory Chèvre Rosemary Buckwheat Crackers
Preheat oven to 175°C / 350°F
2 cups/340 g buckwheat flour
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
scant 1/2 cup / 100g cold chèvre, chopped into small pieces
1/2 cup / 115g cold, salted butter, chopped into small pieces
2 teaspoons fresh, chopped rosemary
6 tablespoons cold water
Mix the flour, sugar and salt together to combine thoroughly. Pour into the bowl of a food processor and add the chèvre, butter and rosemary. Process until fully combined and the mixture begins to clump together. With the food processor running, slowly add the cold water in a steady stream. Process until the mixture begins to form a mass. Turn off the food processor. Tip the mixture into a bowl or onto a clean countertop. Knead together until it forms a smooth mass. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes or freeze for 15 minutes, until cold but not rock solid.
Divide the dough in half. Sprinkle the counter top with a light layer of buckwheat flour. Roll the dough out into an even layer, about 1/8 thick, turning the dough over and dusting both sides with additional flour during the rolling out process to prevent sticking. Cut with the cookie cutter of your choice. Place the raw cookies onto a parchment-lined oven pan about 1/4″ apart. Bake 10 minutes until light golden brown. Cool completely; then store in an air-tight container for up to 2 weeks.
Makes 75-85 small crackers