My blue theme for snacks on Oscar night only went so far. I made a blueberry crumble tart that I really enjoyed, and I tried a blue cheese and apple hors d’oeuvre that I ended up not loving. The third item I made completely abandoned that theme but was delicious. These manchego cheese crackers with marcona almonds are from The New Spanish Table. I just finished the book after reading it off and on since November when I tried a few tapas from it. There’s a lot of information in there. Anya von Bremzen covers regional preferences, historical facts, and modern takes on Spanish cuisine. There are many interesting side notes with explanations about ingredients and origins of dishes. Some of the recipes are very traditional, some are chefs’ contemporary twists on classics, some are more involved than others, and a few, like these cheese crackers, are simple ideas that she learned from friends. This recipe was given to her by Melissa Clark, and the intro note about how hard the crackers are to resist is definitely true.
To make the dough, softened butter and grated manchego cheese were creamed together in the bowl of a mixer. Flour and salt were added, and the dough was supposed to form itself after a bit more mixing. Mine remained very crumbly and wasn’t sticking together at all, so I dribbled in just a tablespoon or so of milk and let the mixer turn a few more times until it seemed like dough. It was then formed into a log, and I flattened that into more of a long, square-ish shape which was wrapped in plastic and left to rest in the refrigerator for an hour. One quarter inch thick pieces were cut from the dough, and each was brushed with egg wash and topped with a marcona almond before being baked for 15 minutes.
The crackers were crunchy on the edges and a little tender in the middle and full of great manchego flavor. Marcona almonds are pretty addictive all by themselves, and they made the crackers even better than they already were. This was a very basic cracker with just butter, cheese, and almonds for flavor, and I’m not complaining about that at all, but I was thinking about how it might be fun to add a little smoked paprika or a pinch of cayenne next time.