I first tasted these extraordinarily delicious crackers at Rachel and her husband Tony’s North London home. They were served with an equally delicious bottle of Champagne, which, in turn, preceded a dinner of a familiar spiced eggplant salad, with a very fine roast chicken to follow. These occasional dinners with particular friends revolve around the consumption of a few fine bottles. So some excellent red wine was poured, we moved on to slices of ripe cheese … and at that moment, I felt that all was really quite all right with the world. Silly old Hop.
- 6½ tablespoons (generous ¾ stick) cold, unsalted butter, cut into chunks
- ¾ cup (scant) all purpose flour
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- ½ heaping teaspoon mustard powder
- 1/3 cup (rounded) finely grated Cheddar
- 1/3 cup (rounded) finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus a little extra to finish
- 1 large egg, beaten
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Put the butter and flour into a food processor, together with the salt, cayenne pepper, mustard powder, and cheeses. Briefly process all together to begin with, and then, finally, pulse the mixture in short spurts as you notice the mixture coming together-as pastry, if you like. Once the texture is clearly “clumpy,” tip it all out onto a lightly floured counter and deftly, but thoroughly, knead it together until well blended and smooth. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Gently roll out the pastry on a lightly floured counter to about an 1/8-inch thickness. Using a 1½ to 2-inch cookie cutter, cut out crackers the size you wish for, depending on the occasion. Lay them out onto a greased baking tray about ¾ inch apart; it may be necessary to bake them in 2 batches.
Carefully brush the surface of each cracker with beaten egg and sprinkle a little finely grated Parmesan over. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, or until a gorgeous, pale golden color is achieved; the superb smell will also inform you that they are ready. Carefully lift off the tray using a spatula and place on a cooling rack. Serve while still just warm, if possible.