When we bought our house, one of the things that really sold me on it was the backyard.
It’s sort of an average-sized yard, surrounded by a chain link fence and, at the moment, blanketed with dry, brown leaves. But it’s bordered by mature azaleas and there’s a big camellia loaded with buds just outside the kitchen window. This pleases me to no end.
There’s enough room for a picnic table and maybe, at some point, a swing set. There are sunny spots and shady spots and two big magnolia trees reaching across the fence from the next-door neighbor’s yard.
There’s also a funny little space for building backyard fires. I don’t really know what to call it. A fire pit isn’t quite right but calling it an outdoor fireplace makes it sound pretty fancy, which it’s not. It’s just a little bricked-in area with a chimney at the back.
As soon as I saw it, I started imagining evenings filled with slightly scorched marshmallows, melty chocolate and graham crackers.
We finally got around to building a fire out there several weeks ago and I dug up a bag of marshmallows and some chocolate squares for the occasion.
We didn’t have any graham crackers, though, so we resorted to using a few hunks of leftover bread instead. Our makeshift s’mores were still pretty delicious, but Paul didn’t grow up with s’mores and I couldn’t get over the fact that his introduction to them was incomplete.
I don’t really think Paul gave any of this a second thought, but I couldn’t get our need for graham crackers off my mind. At the grocery store, however, I could never quite convince myself to pick up a box.
The thing is, outside of s’mores, I have never been the biggest fan of graham crackers. They start out a little crunchy but end up soggy and they look disconcertingly like cardboard.
So I decided to take matters into my own hands.
These homemade graham crackers are crisp, buttery and so much better than the packaged version, it’s unbelievable. I kind of can’t believe I’m saying this, but they are almost too good for s’mores, stealing the show from the marshmallows and chocolate.
Having said that, the flavor is subtle, coming mostly from the butter and whole grain flours — no vanilla, spices or other flavorings in sight. You could certainly add a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar before baking, but I think they’re pretty near perfect as is.
I like these graham crackers best with a mug of tea as an afternoon snack, but I am already thinking up other ways to use them: perhaps dressed up with a coating of white chocolate and a sprinkle of dried cranberries for a holiday cookie platter; or broken into pieces and stirred into ice cream; or spread with chocolate ganache and turned into a sandwich cookie.
I have a feeling they’d make for a sturdy — and delicious — take on a gingerbread house too.
These are easy to make, require little time in the oven, and both the dough and the finished cookies store well. Mix up an extra batch and you’ll always have something around to offer unexpected guests. Or tie a stack of them together with a pretty ribbon for a nice little hostess gift, that is, assuming you can bear to part with any.
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Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker, where it was adapted from the book "Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones."
There are no fancy ingredients here. Graham flour can be hard to find, so I used a mixture of rye flour and regular whole-wheat flour in its place. I also added a little wheat germ for texture. If you don't have rye flour, all whole wheat is fine. I was just using up what I had around. And if you don't have wheat germ on hand, it's OK to leave it out.
The original recipe called for a total of 16-18 minutes baking time but I found that they needed just 10 minutes in my oven.
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole-wheat flour
- 1/3 cup rye flour
- 2 tablespoons wheat germ
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon table salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2/3 cup brown sugar (light or dark)
- 3 tablespoons honey
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, wheat germ, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the butter, brown sugar and honey. With an electric mixer, beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about three minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed just until combined. Flatten the dough into a large disk, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least two hours and up to five days.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line your baking sheets with parchment. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to a thickness of about 1/8 inch.
Cut out your cookies. I used a bench scraper to cut mine into squares, but you can cut them into other shapes if you prefer. I also used the tip of my candy thermometer to poke a pattern of holes in the tops of the cookies, but this is entirely optional.
Bake the cookies for 10 minutes (see headnote), rotating the baking sheets at the halfway point. The finished cookies should be a deep, golden brown. Transfer them to a wire rack to cool. Cookies will keep in an airtight container for several days.