3/10/13

homemade nacho cheez it's

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Cheez Its are definitely my food indulgence weakness.
To me, they are my potato chip. I will gladly take them over a bag of potato chips.
After a grueling workout I crave those salt-lick like squares with a giant glass of ice cold cherry coke.
Sounds good right?  But I rarely act on that indulgence.
Cheez Its have also given me a couple wonderful recipes.
I've cut way back on the amount I eat since they are loaded with chemicals, flavorings and
other crap.
But the best part of this recipe is the ability to switch out seasonings and flavor the crackers to your liking.  I highly suggest investing in some cheese powder.  A good cheese powder that isn't filled with a ton of fillers, chemicals and crap.  Whole Foods or any natural food store should have a good selection of cheese powders.
In this recipe I used a mexican spice flavoring or a taco mix.  I used about 1-3 TB of seasoning from one of those all-natural flavor packets used in making taco's or beef dishes as well as a cheese powder.
You could also try ranch, pizza seasonings, tomato-basil seasonings, the possibilities are endless.
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See the cheese powder dusting on the cracker?
Instead of using flour when I roll out the dough, I used cheese powder (just a little bit).
It's an excellent idea that serves as two purposes.
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Please do not overwork the dough.
To do my best to avoid over-working the dough, I mixed everything by hand.
I wanted a crisp, puffy cracker.
Now if you want a thin crispy cracker, roll out the dough as thin as possible.
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I'm not the best at rolling out a rectangle to get more uniform squares, but as you do this more you will get better at it.
Next time I will try the rectangle along with a ruler for better accuracy -- just to see if I can do it. HA!
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If you want those "lines" just like a real Cheez It, then use a fork to make the indentations.
But the lines got lost in the baking as the cracker "puffs".
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Or you can make little holes in the center by using the end of a chopstick.
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Truly a tasty cracker with a deep cheddar flavor.
Only downside is they do get stale after about two days.
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homemade nacho cheez-its

8 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated
4 TB unsalted butter, room temperature
1 TB vegetable shortening
¼ ts salt
2-3 TB of taco or mexican seasonings
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 TB ice water
cheese powder for sprinkling the tops of the crackers before baking, optional

Cook notes: if you don’t want to use any seasonings and just want plain cheddar then use a bit more salt in lieu of the seasonings.
I do not have a stand mixer, and did this by hand, which was much easier since you don’t run the risk of overmixing. You want these crackers to bake up light and crisp, so to achieve that you mix the dough until just done.
I HIGHLY recommend investing in cheese powder for use on the crackers just before baking and for using when you roll out the dough.  King Arthur has a wonderful brand, and most natural food stores have cheese powder, even all natural-flavored cheese powder.
If you are making these in a hot kitchen or during the summertime, please use a marbled surface for rolling out the dough. 
This dough you want to keep as cold as possible.
If dough at any point gets sticky, just stick it back in the fridge.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, (or by hand, I’ve done this by hand, much easier) mix the cheese, butter, shortening, seasonings, and salt.
Add the flour and mix on low (dough will be pebbly). Slowly add the water and mix as the dough forms a ball.
Pat the dough into two disks, wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for an hour or overnight
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375 F.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
On a cutting board, sprinkle the board with a tiny amount of cheese powder. 
Divide the dough into two pieces and roll each into a very thin (1/8 inch or less) 10x12 inch rectangle.
Using a pastry cutter, sharp knife or pizza wheel, cut the rectangles into 1-inch squares, then transfer them to the baking sheets.  If it gets hard to lift the dough off, just pop them back in the fridge to harden up.
Appearance-wise, if you want clone like Cheez It’s, take a fork and make indentations around the crackers, and then a sharp knife and make a small indentation in the middle of each cracker. 
This part is time consuming, so it’s up to you.  I just made a small hole in the middle of the crackers, and skipped the edges.
Baking: please bake for only 10-15 minutes. 
Look for puffed and browning around the edges.
These crackers can go from lightly browned to burnt in mere 2 minutes so keep an eye out on them.
Should make about 4-5 dozen depending on how you cut them.
They do not last days.  I’d give it 2 days max before they get stale.

21 comments:

  1. LOVE these! I made homemade cheeze-it's for my cookbook but didn't use cheese powder. Ive recently seen a copycat recipe cookbook and they call for it and I wasn't even familiar with it til recently. I've looked at my groc store and can't find it & apparently king Arthur sells it, but they're out of stock. I need to try this stuff...and your recipe! Looks crazy addictive!

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  2. Those look amazing! Just like real Cheez Its but better. I can't believe they only last two days. You have to figure out a way to make them last longer.

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  3. Mmmmmmmm brilliant! I cant even have a box in the house-no control

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  4. are you going to make these into your chocolate bark???

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  5. Wow, these look a million times better than store bought. My kids would adore me if I made these.

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  6. Girl, when will you be over to make us up a batch of these to share? I promise to share... Love the idea of incorporating cheese powder and, specifically, rolling the dough out on it!

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  7. We are not friends anymore.

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  8. Yum. I wish I could reach into the screen. I like Cabot's Cheddar Shake. I used to mail order it plus cheeses, of course, from Cabot's, but our Wegmans now stocks it. Sweet.

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  9. I honestly was never really into cheez-its or potato chips...I'm just such a sweets girl through and through. But the.boy is a different story...and I'd much rather he eat homemade than storebought! I'll have to try these!

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  10. Ooo.. wow. I wonder if you can make goldfish crackers the same way.

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  11. so. is there a difference between cheez-its and cheese nips? it's the age-old question. nice recipe, dawn!

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  12. I love this recipe! My kids fight over the last pack of cheeze it's all the time. Now I'll have to make my own

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  13. Oh my, I can imagine how addicting these are! Now I want a bowl of these and a glass of cherry coke, too :)

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  14. Our crackers always go stale before we eat them. This would be the perfect solution. And maybe they can be frozen?

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  15. Delicious. My boys would love me to make them these little treats. Cheez its are really difficult to find in Hong Kong so this is one fabulous alternative.

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  16. Nicely done! My kids love cheez-its. Now I can make them at home.

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  17. Waw, your cheese crackers look amazing &ooh so tasty too! :)
    Yummo!

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  18. these look awesome! and i have to eat them in two days? too bad ;)

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  19. this sounds great! and it's easy enough for me to instantly add to me recipes to try. 2 days is too bad, but no problem in my house. mmm, thanks! now to get cheese powder! I have cheese powder for popcorn, but it may be too salt laden.

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