2/16/2015

vegan whole wheat graham crackers

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I don't know what it is about graham crackers. It's just one of those cravings I get every now and then and just can't shake. It must have something to do with being a kid or having s'mores around a campfire at night. They've got everything a good snack should without being too sweet or too filling or too anything, really. They're the perfect vehicle for something else (cheese, jam, chocolate, etc.), which is what makes them even better.

There's not much wrong with some of the graham crackers you can buy on the shelf these days. And in fact, it's actually pretty easy to find ones that are accidentally vegan. I say accidental because it doesn't exactly appear to be the aim of the company, but when you scan the ingredient list (which you do, right?), it all checks out: no animal products.


Still, even if you can buy something pretty good, it's always my goal to see how I can make it a little bit better. Why not, right? And who's going to complain about having warm cookie/crackers coming out of the oven (which is more or less what you're dealing with here) right?

For this recipe, you will need:

3/4 cup + 1 tbsp whole wheat graham flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ginger
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground flaxseed + 1 tablespoon water
3 1/2 tablespoons almond milk
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
3 tablespoons molasses
1 tablespoon sugar, optional (for sprinkling on top)

A word about graham flour: this is some interesting stuff. Basically, it's most distinguishing characteristic is the coarseness of the grind. It has a high protein content and works great for any recipe where you're aiming for a dense, crisp texture. Which, of course, makes it perfect for graham crackers. You gotta get that snap


Begin by preheating your oven to 350 degrees. If you have some silpat mats, prep two baking sheets. Otherwise, parchment paper will do just fine. In a small cup, stir together your flaxseed and water and put aside so it can set up.

In a large bowl, whisk together your flours, sugar, salt, spices and baking soda until evenly combined. In a smaller bowl, whisk together your olive oil, almond milk, maple syrup, molasses and your prepared flax egg. This might take a second to come together, but it'll happen. Add your wet mixture to your dry and fold together. What you're aiming for is a malleable but somewhat dry dough. If using a rubber spatula isn't really doing the trick, get in there with your hands. That's what dough is for anyway, right?


Once your dough is ready, form into a ball and press down on a lightly-floured surface. Roll into a rectangular shape, or as close to it as you can come. You can make these into any shape you want (it really is the perfect dough for cute cookie cutters) or you can go ultra-traditional and use a pizza-cutter or pastry cutter to make perfect rectangles or squares.


Arrange on your baking sheets about an inch or so apart (they won't spread out much) and prick each cracker with a fork a few times. You can get creative here, or aim to mimic the graham crackers of your childhood. Top with some of your sugar, if desired, and transfer to the oven for 15 minutes, rotating your pan halfway through.


Okay, so I'm usually an advocate for digging in the second something is cool enough for consumption. Chalk this up to impatience or wanting to know how it/they turned out, whatever. The truth of the matter here is that these guys are better if you wait. Why? Sure, they will taste great right out of the oven, but they won't have that familiar crunch that makes graham crackers, well, graham crackers. Also, if you've got any left for storing (only saying) don't seal them off in plastic. These do great in a glass or ceramic jar or even on a plate loosely covered with foil. Plastic won't totally ruin them, but leave the top off the container or the bag open so that they retain (or increase!) their crispness.


And of COURSE, if you're going to go as far as making your own vegan graham crackers, you'd better treat yourself to some vegan s'mores. How is this possible, you ask? The fine folks of Dandies are rocking my world with their gelatin-free variety. Hats off to you, you beautiful geniuses: they are perfect. How perfect, you ask? See below.


Exactly.

The molasses gives these crackers a rich, dark color and an almost rye-like flavor. I may try these again swapping out the molasses for honey. I know that would eliminate the vegan factor, but it might taste a touch more traditional while keeping it dairy-free. Let me know what you think!

Update: I tried this recipe keeping everything exactly the same except I substituted the molasses for honey. Came out great!