The Graham Cracker: Cracker or Cookie?

By on January 26, 2010

Not that long ago I was watching Larry King Live. This is not something I ever try to make a habit of, but on this rare occasion I found myself watching an episode with Jack Hannah and baby animals. My husband has this obsession with baby animals that I find precious and somewhat bizarre at the same time. So I indulged him by watching this baby animal special on Larry King. A few minutes into the show Jack brings out a baby Spider Monkey. He shows Larry the monkey, Larry looks to the camera and say’s in his most somber and serious tone “spider or monkey, you tell me”. Really Larry, this is your question, spider or monkey? Are your suspenders a little too tight or are you just an idiot? Apparently both.

From time to time I find myself thinking about this ridiculous phrase. Spider or monkey? So what does all this have to do with graham crackers? Well, I’ll tell you. I love graham crackers and I found myself asking, “Graham cracker, cracker or cookie?”. It’s silly I know, but it got me giggling. So graham crackers are tricky. They are sweet, yet shaped like a classic cracker and we use this item to make tasty crusts for pies, cheesecakes and many other treats that taste better with the “crackers“. Grahams are such a cozy treat, they bring back childhood memories, although I think I eat more of them now than I did back then. A favorite treat of mine which my apparently highbrow friends have deemed as “ghetto“, is a cheap but extremely appropriate Nabisco graham cracker with even cheaper, but needless to say perfect, dollop of grocery store frosting.

I prefer the cream cheese kind or maybe a nice vanilla. But when I’m feeling a little crazy…Funfetti frosting. I know, I know, a town full of wonderful desserts and I make my ghetto graham snacks. Guilty as charged.

Grahams even seem to find their way to the holiday table. Everyone seems to have that special recipe that uses crushed grahams as the oh so special crust. I know we just got over all the holiday hullabaloo, but I can’t stop reminiscing over a great use of the crumbs. Stop and imagine for a moment, raspberries, cream cheese and a graham crumbs, multiple layers, much joy. In the same way beans and cornbread make a perfect combination, I feel the same way about grahams and cream cheese. They were made for each other.

Being the food nerd that I am, I looked up the old Wikipedia page and was surprised to learn that graham crackers were originally marketed in 1829 as “Dr. Graham’s Honey Biskets” and conceived of as a health food as part of the Graham Diet, a regimen to suppress what he considered “unhealthy carnal urges,”

Wow, sounds like Dr. Honey Bisket was the Larry King of the 19th century, sans the suspenders of course. Dr. Graham apparently felt the more bland your food, the less likely you were to indulge in unhealthy urges.

Well Dr. Graham, your cracker has come a long way. So another point to note, a true graham cracker is only a graham cracker if it is made with real graham flour. While my recipe is not made with graham flour, I feel that it’s just as good, maybe even better. But unlike Dr. Graham, I doubt my crackers will suppress any unhealthy urges. Enjoy!

Graham Cookie Cracker

1 cup of whole wheat pastry flour

1 ½ cup of white all-purpose flour

1/8 cup of ground flax seeds

1 Tsp of Kosher salt

1 Tsp of baking soda

2 Tsp of Ground Cinnamon

½ Tsp of freshly grated nutmeg

1 cup of sweet cream butter( 2 sticks)

1 cup brown sugar

1 Tbs of Vanilla

4 Tbs of Honey

A few notes on this recipe: 1) You may be tempted to just eat the dough raw. Feel free. I know I ate my fair share. But if you have the patience, wait, and the end result will be even better. 2) These crackers/cookies are great when sandwiched with buttercream, lemon curd or even peanut butter. 3) Try making them with freshly grated ginger, roll out really thin and serve with a honey goat cheese.

Turn oven to 350

Whisk all dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside. In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in honey and vanilla, making sure to scrap down the sides. Add flour mixture, mix until combined. Roll dough into a ball and chill for about 20 minutes. Set aside a bowl of sugar and flour. Heavily dust your counter space and roll out a small amount of dough. I like to use small round biscuit (biskit?) cutters to cut out my cookies. You can really use any cutter or a fluted pastry wheel. The dough is really sticky so make sure to use plenty of flour. Set dough cut-out on parchment paper lined baking sheets. Poke holes in each cookie and sprinkle sugar on them as you see fit. Bake for 12-15 minutes. I like my cookies a little on the soft side. If you like crispier ones, cook for about 15 minutes. Cool completely on a rack. Enjoy!

About the Author:

Molly is co-owner of Antoinette Baking Co. a locally-based company specializing in macarons, delectable cakes, madeleines and many other tasty treats. She is currently at work on a project which consists of creating and perfecting 52 macarons, one per week over the course of a year. The progress of this “52 Macarons” project is chronicled on her blog,”The Velvet Macaron”. Her goal, if not yet attained, is to become the “Macaron Queen” of Tulsa (if not the world). When not baking or blogging, Molly designs and sells aprons at Dwelling Space and Sage Culinary Studio. Some have suggested that Molly may have an unhealthy cake stand addiction. &

About Molly Martin