“Crispy Almond Sea Salt Crackers” Holiday Gift Idea / e.a.t. #12

Almond Crackers with Sea Salt

Not your Mother’s saltines! Not that I am not a fan of those familiar square rather salty stacks wrapped in waxed paper. I grew up on them and whenever I am feeling a bit under the weather a few saltines with a bowl of hot soup just makes everything better.

Here is my all-grown-up version of the saltine…”Crispy Almond Sea Salt Crackers” that make a fine gift for any lover of cheese & wine on your list.

  Made with almond meal they are equally delectable with cheeses both soft & smeary or thinly sliced & hard. Get busy…these are good!

Tin of Buttery Almond Crackers

One recipe makes about 4-5 dozen cookies which can be stored for up to one month in airtight containers. Once the dough is made & chilled it is just a matter of rolling & cutting out, baking & packaging….ready to give & share. It is as “easy as that”.

Ingredients:

1 cup almond meal (I used Bob’s Red Mill)

1 1/4  cups white whole wheat flour

1/3 cup light brown sugar

1 tsp kosher salt

1 stick butter, cut into small pieces

2-4 tbsp ice water

Optional: 1 tbsp orange or lemon zest

1 egg yolk with 1 tbsp water beaten together

Crunchy, Flakey Sea Salt such as Maldon or a Black Hawaiian

It is as “easy as this”:

1. In a food processor pulse together the almond meal, white whole wheat flour, brown sugar & salt just until blended. Add in the butter & pulse just until mixture is grainy looking. (this is when you would add the citrus zest if desired)

Almond Meal & Brown SugarDSC_3428

2. With the processor running drizzle in the ice water by tablespoons until a dough forms.

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3. Turn dough out onto a work surface & shape into a disc. Wrap in plastic & chill at least 30 minutes before rolling out.  When ready to bake the crackers preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

4. Remove dough from the refrigerator, place on a lightly floured board & knead a few times to soften somewhat before rolling out.

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5. Roll dough out thinly to about 1/8 inch thickness. Cut into shapes using cookie cutters.. Gather up dough scraps & re-roll out thinly, cutting out more crackers until all the dough is used. Place cut out dough on parchment lined baking sheets.

6. Use a fork to press holes in the center of each shape. There really is a reason for this other than aesthetics. The holes allow steam to escape from the dough while baking. This makes for a flat cracker crispy cracker. Brush each lightly with the egg-water glaze & sprinkle sea salt lightly over all. Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown & crispy.

Cut out Cracker Shapes

Buttery Almond Crackers with Sea Salt

7. Let crackers cool completely before storing.

For gift giving stack in decorative boxes or tins, label & add a ribbon. Simple, melt in your mouth buttery deliciousness & as easy as that!

crispy almond crackers

The Container Store, Target, Michael’s & JoAnn’s all have airtight tins and sturdy boxes made just for edible gifts as well as tons of sites on-line. I also often use brown lunch bags as I like the way they look. Use store-bought or homemade labels. I make mine using card stock & my printer or rubber stamps. Twine, ribbon, old  silk fabric cut into strips all make beautiful ribbons. Just look around your kitchen….cereal boxes covered with paper….coffee tins painted or wrapped with pages from old cooking magazines…so many ways to make a gift special.

Little gallery of gift giving ideas:

Oat boxes & coffee tins
Oat boxes & coffee tins
Cardstock & magazine images collaged labels
Cardstock & magazine images collaged labels
homemade Christmas tree stamp
homemade Christmas tree stamp
Cloth Napkin wrapped candles
Cloth Napkin wrapped candles
Packing material for fragile gifts made by shredding magazines in my shredder
Packing material for fragile gifts made by shredding magazines in my shredder
Tins from The Container Store with see-through top
Tins from The Container Store with see-through top
My favorite rolling letter stamp for making labels
My favorite rolling letter stamp for making labels

A Seasonal, Southern Red Bartlett Pear-Almond Cake (with Grits & Molasses)

Red Bartlett Pears

Three beautifully deep red Bartlett Pears, a bag of Bob’s Red Mill Almond Flour & a box of yellow grits, a bit of raw sugar & Muddy Pond sorghum molasses collided in my kitchen this afternoon. They did not start out intending to meet. They were all minding their own business sitting quietly on their shelves. It was really all the pears fault. They entered, sitting boldly on the counter, which is where I found them.  Perfectly ripe today, tomorrow they would not be so. The skins, soft and edible, melding with the flesh as I bit into one. They begged to become a cake, nothing fancy, just a simple rustic cake. I agreed.

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“A Seasonal Southern Red Bartlett Pear Almond Cake”

Here is what I used:

3 Red Bartlett pears, 1 cup raw sugar, 1 1/2 sticks softened butter, 2 TBSP sorghum molasses, 3 eggs, 2 tsp bourbon vanilla extract, 1 1/2 cups Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal Flour, 1/2 cup yellow corn grits, 1 tsp baking soda, 1/4 tsp salt, homemade “Very Vanilla Bean Sugar” (or store-bought vanilla sugar)  & Powdered Sugar to garnish

Very Vanilla Bean Sugar

Here is how you make it:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9″ springform pan.

2. Mix together the almond meal, grits, baking soda & salt. Set aside.

almond meal flour, grits, baking soda & salt

3. Cream sugar, butter & molasses together until fluffy. Beat in vanilla & eggs.  Turn mixer to low and add dry ingredients, mixing  just until well blended.

cake batter

4. Scrape batter into the prepared springform pan smoothing the top.

Almond cake batter

5. Cut pears in half & remove cores from each. Cut each half into quarters. Place half of the pear quarters in a circle over the top of the cake batter.  Bake cake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and quickly add another layer of the pears on top of the partially baked cake. Return to oven and bake another 10 minutes or so. Remove cake from oven and while still hot sprinkle generously with “Very Vanilla Bean Sugar”. Sugar crystals will melt on top of the hot cake.

Pear Almond Cake

Pear Almond CakeA dense, very moist cake with lots of texture and flavor, almost like pear pudding in the middle. To gussy it up serve with a light dusting of powdered sugar.

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clean your plate please