Let's Go Crackers

The older I get, the more Christmas gift giving loses its appeal. Because who really needs more things to fill our already stuffed closets? But the heart-warming idea of homemade, edible holiday gifts is something all together different.

Making edible holiday gifts for friends and loved ones was a family tradition that started well before I was ever born. My maternal great-grandmother and grandmother, who spoke fluent German, taught me the joy of making hundreds of dozens of cookies and gifting homemade cookie-filled, decorated coffee tins to anticipatory recipients.

Though my holiday gift making is on a much smaller scale--my family started baking cookies over Thanksgiving weekend and wrapped up the final weekend before Christmas, this celebratory event keeps a strong connection to my beloved grandmother and Oma and allows me to continue the tradition of spreading holiday cheer through my favorite language, food.

Traditionally, I run through a few new recipes to mix it up. But here's what I have got so far. The smashing paleo granola featured on the blog in August is on the list along with chocolate bark, which was a hit from last year and also featured on the blog. Since I usually whip up three different edible gifts, I still need to add in something new to spice things up a bit.

As a follower of Anna Jones, a disciple of Jamie Oliver, I was curious to check out her recently released second cookbook, "A Modern Way to Cook."

Though the book is filled with more than 150 approachable vegetarian recipes, her "amazing cracker" recipe struck me as very similar to the spectacular life-changing bread I made this year in February and shared it here. It calls for oats and tons of different seeds mixed with water and a touch of maple syrup and coconut oil to bind it together. We loved this easy-to-make bread so much, I made it multiple times.

Filled with seeds and toasted until golden and crispy, these crackers are equally as fabulous as the life-changing bread and completely addictive. David and I couldn't stop eating them. With a pat of butter or vegan Earth Balance, these crackers were so satisfying, they needed nothing else. The next day we ate them with a bit of leftover tuna salad and they were sturdy and added a welcoming earthy, seedy crunch that everyone loves.

So rather than hit the mall and force your way through the crowded stores in search of the perfect item that no one really needs, why not stay home and create edible memories for your friends and family? Who knows? Like the cookies my grandmothers made, your treats may become a welcome (and expected) addition to the season's festivities.

Buen provecho!
Life-Changing Crackers
The Cowgirl Gourmet slightly adapted this recipe from Anna Jones in her second cookbook "A Modern Way to Cook"

Print recipe

These super seedy and easy to make crackers are absolutely addictive and will ensure you long-lasting, deep relationships to anyone who tastes them. Toasty, crispy and loaded with flavor, these are perfectly delicious eaten alone, with a slab of butter and sturdy enough to use as a scoop for dips and cheeses.   

Makes 2 sheet pans

1 3/4 cups gluten-free/organic rolled oats
1 cup sunflower seeds
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup flax seeds
2 tablespoons chia seeds
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
2 tablespoons hemp seeds
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1 tablespoon maple syrup
3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

Optional add-ins:
2-3 tablespoons chopped rosemary
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a big bowl, combine all of dry ingredients together.
In a smaller bowl or glass measuring cup, add the water, salt, maple syrup and melted coconut oil and stir until blended.

Add the liquids to the big bowl of seeds and mix well until everything is soaking up the liquids. Let the mixture sit for 20-30 minutes, stirring to encourage the liquids to be fully absorbed.
Once there is absolutely no liquid remaining in the bowl and the mixture is thick, divide in half and place one half on each of the lined baking sheets.

Using another sheet of parchment, spread the mixture out using the palms of your hands or a rolling pin until it is about 1/5 inch or 1/2 cm thick.
The thinner you can spread the mixture, the more even it will cook. Take the top parchment paper off.
Repeat with the second baking sheet.

Let both sheets sit on the counter for at least two hours or all day if that is better for you.

When ready, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Using a sharp knife, score the crackers into rectangles or squares.

Place both baking sheets in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the baking sheets from the oven.
This is the only hard step and it's really not even that hard. Grab a clean and not hot baking sheet and place it over one of the hot baking sheets. You are going to flip the pans so the underside of the cracker is revealed. (This is a lot like flipping a frittata, and this quick video will give you a better idea of how this works, because it can be tricky the first time. Click here for the video.)

Now peel off the parchment paper and slide the sheets of crackers back to the hot baking sheet. If you are able to score the backside of the crackers a bit to help them break easier after cooking, do so now, and then put it back in the oven.

Repeat with the remaining baking sheet.
Bake for another 20-30 minutes, keeping an eye on the crackers as you want them to be golden and crispy. It was about now when I removed one baking sheet at a time and began to reinforce the cuts so the crackers would begin to break along the intended scores. The outer edges of the crackers will get more golden than those in the center and can be removed as needed.
If needed, you can remove some of the crackers from the outer edges as they tend to cook first.
When they are ready, remove baking sheets from the oven and allow to cool. Then completely break or cut along the lines where the crackers have been scored.

Serve immediately with butter or let cool and serve later with spreads and/or cheese. Reserve any remaining crackers in a tin or ziploc bag. These will stay fresh for up to one week.
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