These might just be the crackers to top all other crackers. They're flecked all the way through with roasted nuts and chewy bits of cranberry, and they're crunchy enough to satisfy any snack-addict. Rosemary adds its piney, fresh presence, while whole wheat gives them a savory depth. The crackers are sturdy enough to spread with cheese or hold some dip, but they're also fantastic on all on their own as a mid-afternoon snack. For pre-dinner cheese plate or a handy hostess gift, trust me: these crackers bring it to win it.
I've been tinkering with this recipe for years now. I first found it on Julie's blog Dinner with Julie when I was looking for a way to curb my addiction to Raincoast Crisps (a.k.a. Lesley Stowe crackers to the Canadians among us). It's a twice-baked cracker similar to biscotti: you make a quickbread loaf, slice it thinly, and then bake the slices until crisp. Julie's recipe was an immediate hit — it was exactly the crunchy, nutty, fruit-flecked cracker I'd been looking for.
Since then, I've played with adding some whole grain flours for a deeper, earthier flavor (rye flour is my favorite!), upped the amount of rosemary, and tweaked the sugars. The original raisin version is excellent, but for the holidays, I like to use cranberries instead. I also started baking my loaves in mini-loaf pans for that perfect two-bite cracker (see where to buy mini loaf pans below).
These crackers are a fantastic addition to just about any cheese plate. I love serving them with several kinds of cheese — they are just as good with a creamy, mild-flavored Brie as with a funky wedge of blue cheese. They are also highly addictive on their own, and I often pack a some in my bag when I'm traveling or gone for the afternoon.
Each batch makes a lot and they keep for several weeks — plenty to take to parties during the holidays or pack up for gifts!
1 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup pecans
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat, rye, spelt, or other whole-grain flour
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary (or 1 tablespoon dry rosemary)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups buttermilk (See Recipe Note)
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup pepitas or pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
Special Equipment: 6 mini-loaf pans (4" x 2 1/2")
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray the mini-loaf pans with non-stick coating (or butter) and arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Place the cranberries in a small heatproof bowl and cover with very hot water. Allow to plump for at least 15 minutes while you continue preparing the crisps.
Scatter the pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven until fragrant and toasted, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and roughly chop while still warm. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, rosemary, baking soda, and salt. Whisk in the brown sugar, making sure to break up any big clumps. Pour the buttermilk over the flours and stir gently with a spatula just until no more dry flour remains.
Drain the cranberries. Add the cranberries, chopped pecans, pepitas, and sunflower seeds to the batter. Stir gently to mix the them evenly throughout the batter.
Divide the batter evenly between the mini-loaf pans, filling them about 3/4 full. Transfer the baking sheet with loaf pans to the oven. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, until the tops have domed and turned golden-brown, and a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cakes comes out clean.
Remove the cakes from the pans and let them cool completely. Transfer to a freezer container and freeze solid, several hours or over night. (If you're planning to freeze the loaves for longer than a day, wrap them in foil before freezing. Loaves can be kept frozen for up to 3 months.)
When ready to make the crisps, heat the oven to 300°F. Position one rack in the top third of the oven and a second rack in the bottom third.
Remove one of the loaves from the freezer and slice it as thin as possible using a serrated knife, 1/8- to 1/16-inch thick. Lay the slices in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet — the crackers can be close, but make sure they don't actually touch. Continue slicing additional loaves until you've filled two sheet pans.
Bake the slices for 15 minutes. Flip the slices, and continue baking for another 10 to 15 minutes. The crackers are done when they are no longer pale in the middle, feel dry to the touch, and are curled slightly at the edges. It's ok if they're still flexible in the middle; the crackers will crisp significantly as they cool.
Transfer the baked crackers to a cooling rack to cool completely. Continue baking the remaining loaves.
Crackers will keep in an airtight container on the counter for several weeks.