Who needs Goldfish® Crackers?

Who needs Goldfish® Crackers anyway? I do not have anything personal against them. I just noticed that they were distinctly missing a symbol on the box and the ingredient list had the questionable word in it.

My oldest son begs for a box of Whales® any time we walk past them in Target. They are essentially the same thing. The Whales® taste a bit saltier in my opinion. The real difference? The Whales® are Kosher. At least I know that the enzymes listed on the ingredient list are safe for me to consume.

There is still this other problem….

The crackers (along with the Cheez-Its® crackers) all have other ingredients in them that are just not all that good for me or my sister. I do not like how I feel after eating Cheez-Its®.

There is a lot of deception going on in US Food Labeling even if you do not realize it (or even care). They put stuff on the labels, the problem is that it does not always tell you the whole story. There are lots of names for MSG in hidden forms, or rather in the forms where it is more “natural.” Let me just say that just because it is more “natural” does not mean that it is any less of an “offending” ingredient. Side affects still happen regardless of what form it is in, it might just affect the severity of the reaction.

I am not telling you this to scare you or even change your mind. I am telling you this so that you know and understand why I took it upon myself to clean my snack bags from time to time.

Besides who needs Goldfish® or Whales® (or even Cheez-Its®) Crackers when you can have Cheesy Elephant Crackers?

I went looking for a fish shaped miniature cookie cutter for this so my children would not go into fish withdraw, but those were nowhere to be had locally. I had to settle for Noah’s Ark shapes. I have to admit that they are cute.

Making cheese based crackers is actually pretty easy. The hardest part is rolling out the dough. Seriously, that is the hardest part. You have to roll it thin. You have to roll it consistently thin. I recommend a fondant roller with the bands on it that allows you to roll your fondant at a consistent thickness all the way across. It works nicely for this. I have yet to use mine for fondant, by the way. I use mine for rolling Jammie Dodger dough, pie crusts, and now cheesy crackers.
Look at how cute the miniature bears are. You do not have to make cute shapes for your crackers. The first time I made the crackers, I just used a pizza cutter and they were straight edged squares. Nothing fancy. I bought a fancy edge pastry cutter so they would not be straight. Then most recently I thought “how cute would they be if they were actually shaped?” Thus the search for miniature cookie cutters.
There is not much to cheesy crackers – cheese, butter, salt, flour, seasoning of choice, and a touch of water. That is all! Not much to it. 
If you look at that list, it makes me begin to wonder why I would ever buy the other stuff again when my children devour the homemade novelties in no time flat. They may not come out and say that they “prefer” these, but the disappearing crackers indicate otherwise. 
They do say, the store bought ones are “cheesier.” That is easy enough to take care of. You use a sharper cheese. I have done this with pre-shredded cheese. I used that the first time I made them. Those were actually cheesier than the ones where I used the food processor to shred all the cheese myself. 
The original recipe I found called for a seasoning that is common for giving cheese its color and also some flavoring and this might have added more flavoring if I had added it. The recipe I settled on did not have it as cheddar cheese already has some in it and I did not want to go buy some if I was not going to commit to cracker making on a regular basis. I opted for freshly cracked/ground pepper instead. I used my favorite McCormick Peppercorn Medley and ground that right into the dough before adding the water to finish blending the dough. It gives it a nice flavor. The kids do not complain about the pepper.
So far what I have used both my KitchenAid mixer and my Cuisinart food processor to make the cracker dough. The first time I used the KitchenAid mixer entirely. The second time I used the Cuisinart food processor entirely. I think next time I will use a combination of both. 
The texture was better using the cheese that I shredded myself in the food processor over store bought pre-shredded cheese. I also used frozen butter that I shredded the second time. The recipe calls for room temperature butter. Shredding the frozen butter gives little pieces of butter that melt very quickly. The crackers were a much better texture this way. 
I made a double batch both times. The mixer never missed a beat. The food processor I overheated. I do not have a little one. It should have been more than ample to handle the amount being added to the bowl. It stopped working. I had to walk away and let it cool down. Fortunately, I did not kill it completely. 
Next time I will shred all my cheese as well as freeze and shred the butter. I will then use my mixer to make the rest of the dough. I am sure the texture of the dough will be less consistent in some ways, but I will have to play with it. The cheese will be much softer than the store bought pre-shredded cheese so maybe it will still work out smooth like the last batch.

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