Nolan is teething something fierce right now. His first set of molars should be emerging at any moment—or at least I hope they will, because his gums are incredibly swollen and he has a scary-looking purple hemotoma on one side. Fortunately, he is a little trooper and tolerates the discomfort with very little fussing, but it really helps to have something to chew on. What does all this have to with my food blog? I’ve started making homemade teething biscuits of a sort for Nolan.
It all started back in April when we bought a box of graham crackers for my Daring Bakers cheesecake. I gave Nolan some to snack on while I was working, and he loved them. But after using some for the crust (and giving half the box to Jeremy for snacking at work), there weren’t many crackers leftover for Nolan. And anyway, store-bought graham crackers, for some reason, are full of hydrogenated fat and high fructose corn syrup, ironic since their inventor, Sylvester Graham, was firmly against the use of additives and highly refined ingredients. I’ve made homemade graham crackers once before, but they were more a grown-up cookie, for making into s’mores, ice cream sandwiches, or other desserts, and I wanted more of an everyday snack cracker, so I turned to The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler, one of my few “baby food” cookbooks, which contains a very simple graham cracker recipe. It turns out crackers that are pretty darn bland by grown-up standards, but Nolan seems to love them, and they are great for those swollen gums. Baby biscotti is next on the list to try out!
Greatest Graham Crackers (for Kids!)
I adapted this recipe for the food processor, and added some cinnamon for flavor. I use all sorts of small cookie cutter shapes to make these a little more fun, and have seriously considered adding a sprinkle of sucanat or turbinado sugar to the tops for a little more interest (but I know it would just drop off and get everywhere as Nolan eats them).
1 C all-purpose flour
1 C whole wheat flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 C unsalted butter
1/2 C honey
1/4 C whole milk
Preheat oven to 400F. In a food processor, combine the flours, cinnamon and baking powder, and pulse once to blend. Add butter, cut into chunks, and pulse until it disappears. Add the honey and pulse until incorporated; dough will be damp. Finally, add the milk and pulse just until dough forms a ball. (Alternatively, you could cut the butter in by hand and just stir the dough together with a spoon.)
Flour your work surface and roll out the dough as thin as you like, 1/8″ to 1/4″ thick. Cut into squares or use cookie cutters to shape dough, and place on an ungreased baking sheet. Prick with a fork if desired and brush with a little extra milk. Bake at 400F for 10 minutes if 1/8″ thick, or 12-15 minutes if 1/4″ thick, until cookies are set and golden brown around the edges. Cool completely on a wire rack before serving.
Source: Adapted from The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler, by Lisa Barnes.
Update 3/16/11: I hadn’t made a batch of these crackers in ages, but Nolan needed something better to snack on than dry spaghetti noodles. Just for fun, I used 1 C AP flour with 1/2 C each of spelt and coconut flours, and you could never have noticed the difference in the finished cookies, which I cut into clovers for Saint Patrick’s Day. Nolan stood alongside me as I cut out the cookies, sneaking pinches of dough, not a problem since the recipe doesn’t call for eggs; he still really loved the finished product as well.
Update 6/19/11: A variation—chocolate graham crackers. I used a combination of whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, and coconut flour, and added 1/4 C cocoa powder (Hershey’s Special Dark, which is a combination). I added 2 T coconut sugar to balance the bitterness of the cocoa, and 2 T or so of additional milk to make up for the extra dry ingredients.