Think of these red chili and Cheddar crackers as Cheez-Its on steroids. Rich aged Cheddar cheese gives the crackers depth while the chili flakes give heat and a kick. They’re addictively, in-your-face delicious.
The spicy kick in these little bites is perfectly balanced with a deep, rich Cheddar flavor. The key to these diamonds is to use the very best aged Cheddar possible. My dear friend Dean insists on calling them “Jeez-its” because, he says, “Christ, they’re good!” Originally published January 30, 2012.–Chester Hastings
LC Jeez-Its Note
Doesn’t really matter what faith you are–or aren’t. You can still appreciate the sentiment expressed above regarding Jeez-Its’ addictive nature. And you thought a box of Cheez-Its was hard to put down.
Red Chili and Cheddar Crackers
- Quick Glance
- 20 M
- 2 H
- Makes 100 or so crackers
- 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for the work surface
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon crushed red chile pepper flakes
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 oz), chilled and diced
- 8 ounces best-quality aged Cheddar cheese, grated
- 3 to 4 tablespoons cold water
- 1. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and chiles. Transfer to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the cheese and pulse to combine.
- 2. Add 3 tablespoons of the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing until the mixture comes together in a ball. Pulse in an additional tablespoon of water if needed to get the dough to hold together. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.
- 3. Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C).
- 4. Roll the dough out to a 1/8-inch thickness directly onto a baking sheet. (If the dough seems sticky, sprinkle the surface ever so lightly with flour.) Try to be as accurate as you can about the thickness of the dough, as the crackers won’t puff up nicely if the dough is too thin, nor will they be crispy enough if the dough is too thick. Using a cookie or biscuit cutter, a sharp knife, or a fluted pasta cutter, trim the dough into ½-inch diamonds (or any shape you prefer).
- 5. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper. (If you, like us, don’t have 3 baking sheets—well, 4, actually, counting the one you’re already using–simply line 1 or 2 or however many baking sheets you have and bake the crackers in batches, allowing the sheets to cool between uses.) Place the dough on the parchment-lined sheets, giving them just enough room so that they are not touching. Bake until the crackers are deep golden brown and crunchy, 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of your crackers. Watch the crackers carefully as they go from almost done to a little too done quite quickly. Transfer the crackers to wire rack and let cool completely before serving. (The crackers can stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week, although they are best the first couple of days.)