Thursday, December 15, 2011

Graham Crackers from Scratch


Lately, it's been just the right weather to sit outside around a giant campfire and roast marshmallows.  This, of course, requires marshmallows, chocolate, and graham crackers.  As I was about to buy graham crackers at Lotte Department store for $10, it dawned on me that I could possibly make them myself.  A quick Google search via my phone liberated me from the expensive graham crackers, and I made my way home with visions of irresistibly delicious graham crackers and their sexy cousin, s'mores.

When I told my friends about my great idea, they all looked at me with a face that unmistakably read, "WTF are s'mores?"  Obviously, none of them are American.  S'mores is a weird word.  Apparently, it's a contraction for "some more" and was first invented by some highly uneducated and speech impaired Girl Scouts.

To go back to the graham cracker, they're fairly easy to make.  Just mix together some common household ingredients (brown sugar, honey, flour, butter, salt, vanilla extract, etc.), chill, and roll out.  The result is mind-blowing.  My sister and I couldn't stop eating them.  They have a wonderfully deep, rich molasses-like flavor and a snappy, airy texture.  Words cannot express the level of nonverbal shaming that went on when it was discovered that I had ate the last of the graham crackers.



Graham Crackers
(adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (375 grams) all-purpose flour
1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt
7 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/3 cup mild-flavored honey
5 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons vanilla extract

Optional Topping
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Ideally, you'd have a food processor to pulse together the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt with the butter until it resembles a coarse meal.  I don't have a food processor or even a pastry blender, so I was stuck with a fork.

Whisk together the honey, milk, and vanilla extract in a separate bowl.  Add the mixture slowly to the dry ingredients until it's just combined.  It'll be very sticky and soft.  Get a piece of plastic wrap, flour it, and cover the dough to refrigerate it for at least two hours up to overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

To roll out the dough, cut the dough up into manageable sections (I quartered mine), and keep the rest of the dough in the refrigerator.  For the section you're working with, use lots of flour because the dough will be quite sticky.  Flour the surface, rolling pin, and the dough lump.  Then, roll out.  You can cut it into rectangles for a more traditional shape.


I started using cookie cutters.


Gather any scraps into a ball and chill to be rolled out again.  I found that scraps re-rolled had a smoother texture than the virgin dough.  This is probably because the butter wasn't cut fine enough in the initial step (Santa, send me a food processor for Christmas!).

Use the blunt end of the knife to score the dividing lines for the graham crackers, and use a chopstick to prick out dotted rows.  Top with the cinnamon sugar if you'd like.  I didn't bother because they were subtly sweet enough on their own.

On parchment-lined baking sheets, bake for about 15 to 25 minutes until they're nice and crisp and golden brown.  They shouldn't be soft at all.


To make s'mores, break up a Hershey's bar into two-square segments.


Toast the marshmallows over an open flame.  A campfire would have been nice, but this was midday so I used the flame from my gas burner.

Characteristic of my impatient roasting technique.
Then assemble with chocolate on top of a graham cracker.  Just-roasted marshmallow on top of the chocolate so that the chocolate slightly melts.  Then top with a graham cracker.



2 comments:

  1. Hi there, I tried you recipe today. It was really crispy. But I have a problem, the crackers had quite the bitter taste...is this because of the honey I used? I had regular honey, not the mild-flavour type.

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