I am arriving upon the seven year anniversary of my perfect cracker discovery. It happened on a girlfriend trip to Chicago in ’09 where one of the four girlfriends was living at the time. I arrived, sick as a dog, dosed up on God knows what and a steroid pack (great house guest, huh?) ready to hit Chi-town and have an adventure with my besties! There was no way I was going to miss a long weekend full of laughter, museums, speakeasy’s, shopping, wine, food and friends. Oh! And the perfect cracker! But I hadn’t discovered that yet…
As we strategized the next few days around Nancy’s dining room table, glasses of red wine in hand and enough crazy chatter to require a translator, Nancy served to us what would become my cheese board cracker obsession from that moment on. I can still hear her announcing to us like it was yesterday, “I found these fantastic little fig crackers at Whole Foods and can’t get enough of them!” The crackers were indeed the perfect vessel for the Cambozola Cheese and Fig Preserves that sat happily upon them. They were nutty and rustic; sweet and savory. I may have been doped up on antihistamines and the like, but my girlfriends and I savored every delicious bite of a new found food crush. We went on several culinary explorations that weekend, but besides my always beautiful friends, it was the cracker that left the lasting impression.
When I returned home and headed to the market to find my cracker obsession, what I found was sticker shock!!!! Granted, I’m not a “cheap” person by any means but wowzer!…Lesley Stowe’s Raincoast Crisps think very highly of themselves! No wonder I love them…they’re crazy EXPENSIVE!!! The crackers came in a teeny tiny little package and sported a price tag of about 8 bucks for twenty or so crackers! Every time I would purchase them (and believe me, I’ve purchased them over and over for my cheese boards for years now), I would think to myself, “surely I can make these at home!”
It was last year that a magical thing happened. I bought a wonderful cookbook by blogger turned cookbook writer, Izy Hossack. The book, and subsequently the blog, is entitled Top with Cinnamon and both are wonderful. Check them out here. Anyhoo…I was reading through her beautiful book and there they were!!!…Fig & Walnut Parmesan Crackers!!!! Izy had unlocked the secret to my cracker obsession!!! I vowed to make them the next week to find out if they stacked up to my “perfect cracker.” Suffice it to say, about eight months later I got around to making the recipe and BOOM! There it was! A beautiful, rustic, sweet and savory cracker that I could make at home for a ton less money than the ones I was buying at the market!…plus they are homemade!…plus they are healthy…plus they are delicious!!! So many wins!
In my home, these Fig and Walnut Crackers must be invited to every cheeseboard party!!! My favorite combination is the way Nancy served them…with a bit of Cambozola Cheese, a beautiful cow’s milk cheese that is a combination of a French triple cream and an Italian gorgonzola, and topped with fig preserves. Even if you’re not a gorgonzola fan, the triple cream and the sweet preserve will soften the saltiness that the gorgonzola can deliver, so I hope you’ll try it. It is heaven in a bite! I also love my perfect cracker served with just a plain triple cream brie as in my photos. Or with my Rosemary Goat Cheese that I will post in an upcoming blog (friends always beg for the recipe). Garnished with a slice of plum and voila! Cheese Board perfection.
The following is my adaptation of Izy’s recipe. Great news!!?? The recipe is SIMPLE to make! I dropped the parmesan from Izy’s original name since I couldn’t plainly detect it’s taste influence. I also plan to tweak the recipe a bit more and introduce fresh rosemary to my next batch!
FIG AND WALNUT CRACKERS
- 1 1/3 cup whole-wheat flour
- 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 cup parmesan, finely grated
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 5 tbsp honey
- 1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
- 1/2 cup dried figs, roughly chopped
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Grease two loaf tins with butter. In a large bowl, stir together the first 6 ingredients. Add 12 1/2 fl oz water and the honey and stir until well combined. Stir in the walnuts, pumpkin seeds and dried figs. Divide the batter between the loaf tins and bake for 40 – 50 minutes, until the edges have started to shrink away from the tins and the loaves are dark on top. Leave to cool on a wired rack and then wrap in plastic wrap and freeze at least 3 – 4 hours.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Unwrap and thinly slice the frozen loaves into roughly 1/8 in. thick slices. Allow them to thaw a little then place the slices on a baking tray lined with baking parchment and bake for 15 – 20 minutes. Watch the crackers very carefully during this stage as you may want to bake a bit longer if you desire a crunchy cracker. The crackers will crisp as they cool…but I found that I had to increase my bake time from the original recipe because I don’t like a “chewy” cracker. Needs a definite “crunch”! You can store them in an airtight container for up to a week. Recipe adapted from Top with Cinnamon; Izy Hossack
I hope you love this recipe as much as I do and serve it soon! Remember to savor life every day!…regardless if a cheese board is involved or not! Love on your family extra hard and let your friends know you cherish and adore them! Cheers everyone!!