Friday, August 12, 2011

Blue Cheese Crisps

Yes, it has been some time since I posted an appetizer or savory recipe.  I do not crave salty things as much as I do sweet, but the craving eventually comes along.  I wanted something cheesy, yet I did not want it to be deep fried.

Firstly, I have a lot of different cheeses in my fridge.  On those rare occasions when I go to Central Market, I take my time in the bread and cheese area.  They have such a great variety there and my husband is usually trying to rush me.  He is one of those "list" people, which means that impulse buying is out.  Sometimes that is a good thing and sometimes not.

Anyhow, if you have a craving for blue cheese or are looking for a quick appetizer, this recipe may be just the one.  The outside is fluffy bread dusted with smoked paprika and a sprinkling of cheddar and Monterrey jack cheese.  The creamy inside is a mix of 2 cheeses, the first being the tangy cream cheese and the other, blue cheese.  This mix provides a wonderfully sharp and salty flavor in every bite.

Outside of the taste, it is a pretty quick fix.  These morsels can be prepared in advance and frozen.    Once taken out of the freezer-just top and bake, no defrosting required!  The recipe states you can top and freeze but I am not sure how well the paprika or cheese on top will do in the freezer, so my suggestion is to top them the day you bake them. This recipe yields 48 appetizers.

Blue Cheese Crisps
courtesy of My Great Recipe Cards/packet 33

3/4 cup cold vegetable shortening, cubed
1/3 to 1/2 cup ice water
1 egg
2 tbs butter
3 oz cream cheese
2 tsp instant minced onion or 1 tsp onion powder
4 oz crumbled blue cheese
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
smoked or regular paprika (for topping)
grated cheddar cheese (optional)

Line 2 baking pans with parchment paper.  Also, let your cream cheese, egg and butter come to room temperature before using.

Sift together flour and salt and set aside.  Fill another bowl with cream cheese, egg, onion or onion powder, butter and blue cheese. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes or until it reaches a creamy consistency. Cover and refrigerate.

Add the cubes of shortening to the flour mixture and blend with a pastry cutter until it becomes a mass of pea-sized clumps.  Sprinkle 1/3 a cup of the ice water over dough and mix with a fork.  If it seems to dry, add more water until the dough holds together in a large ball.    Split dough into 2 equal pieces.

Lay one piece out on a floured surface and roll into a rectangle.  The rectangle should be 8X12.  Take out the filling from the fridge and smear 1/2 of it evenly on the dough, covering a space of 4 inches wide and 12 inches long.  The filling should leave a small border on the three edges, so the dough can be sealed without the filling coming out.  Place the rest of filling back in fridge. 

Take a spatula and run it underneath the dough that is not covered with filling.  This is to make sure that there is no sticking.  Then fold the dough in half, making it into a 4X12 inch rectangle. Press down lightly making sure all the air bubbles are out and seal the edges of the dough.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Cover dough and place in fridge for about 30 minutes.  This will insure that the filling is not runny when you cut the dough.

After cooling, the dough will need to be cut. You can use a knife, a regular or crinkle edged pastry cutter or a small biscuit cutter.  I used a biscuit cutter and they turned out uniform in size but there was some wasted scraps.  Cut dough into 1 inch squares or circles and place pieces on baking sheet. These do not rise much, if at all, so they can be spaced closely together as long as they are not touching.

Sprinkle dough pieces with paprika.  If you opted to top with cheese, sprinkle that over the paprika.
Place pan in oven and bake for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned.  Remove and let cool on pan for 5 minutes and transfer to serving tray. These are best served warm. Repeat process with remaining dough and filling.

If you plan to freeze, complete all steps up to and including the cutting instructions. Freeze in a single layer and wrap well.  To prepare, do not defrost, just put paprika and cheese (if desired) on top and bake.  Enjoy!