What better treat for a children's nautical Rain Gutter Regatta birthday party than goldfish crackers?
Nothing. Goldfish crackers are awesome. Especially when they're homemade and bursting with amazing cheese flavor.
Pretty simple, right? Just four basic ingredients.
I always start by grating my own cheese, for two reasons. First, I don't want any extra filler and cornstarch and whatever they add to keep the cheese from sticking. And second, even the allegedly "sharp" cheddar cheese in the pre-grated bags is nowhere near sharp and flavorful enough for me. We like cheese with big, intense flavors in my family.
If you have a food processor, shredding cheese only takes a couple minutes. If I had to do it by hand, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be so picky about the cheese I use. I hate hand shredders!
Dump all your ingredients into a food processor (hey, it's already dirty from the cheese grating, anyway!) or a stand mixer. You need some serious mixing power for this recipe to get everything to blend together, so I'm afraid it wouldn't turn out at all if you tried it by hand. You really need a machine's help to make these cheese crackers.
Mix until the ingredients come together in a dough ball. It'll look all crumbly like this for a while, and then, like magic, it'll turn into a ball of dough.
That's a ball of the dough made with extra sharp cheddar on the left, and Asiago cheese on the right. The softer the cheese you use, the more quickly the dough will come together. I wouldn't try this recipe with a really dry, hard cheese. The Asiago I used definitely took more time to turn into a dough, and because of the extra mixing, those crackers weren't quite as tender. Still delicious, but just a little bit tougher.
To roll out and cut the goldfish crackers, I used the same technique I use for making my gingerbread houses: A silpat on the counter (to keep the parchment from slipping), a piece of parchment paper on top, and the dough rolled directly on the parchment. Read the gingerbread link for all the details. It's the best way to make sugar cookies, too.
Roll out the dough on the parchment paper, use fish shaped cookie cutters to cut out the shapes, and remove excess dough.
Before baking, you need to dock the crackers (poke little holes in them so they don't develop big air bubbles while in the oven). I used a fork to make a pattern of scales on the bigger fish, and a chopstick to make slightly larger holes for the eyes. It's cute and functional!
Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15 minutes. Watch for the edges to start to turn golden.
It's even faster and easier to make homemade Cheez-It crackers. Roll out your dough, cut into a bunch of small squares, dock the center of each square, spread the squares apart, and bake.
The fish shapes are fun, but the squares are definitely much easier.
The nautical party got the fun fish, but the lunch boxes will just get the squares.