spicy cheddar wafers

20 wafers    |   
Prep Time:
15 minutes    |   
Cook Time:
about 20 minutes

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cheddar crackers

Cookies, cookies, cookies! That’s all everyone seems to be talking about this season. I’m caught up in gingersnaps and pistachio sablès and all manner of sweet things, too, but in reality the cookie I make the most at this time of year is a savory one. Call it a wafer or a cracker* if you like, but this recipe is essentially the same as a butter cookie, only made with cheddar. They are insanely addictive with wine or cocktails and with champagne for New Year’s Eve and they’re insanely easy to prepare as long as you have a food processor.

You can bake these right away or store the dough in the freezer and slice and bake as needed. If you make them immediately, sprinkle with sesame seeds or grind black pepper over the tops. If you want to freeze them for later, shape the dough into a log and roll it in the sesame seeds so the sides are coated (see? the photo shows both…kinda proud of that).

We’ll be eating these on Christmas with friends who are so used to me bringing them along that they have a nickname for them: cheese johnnies. I have no idea what that means, but cheese johnnies are the best holiday “cookie” of them all.

*ps – if you want a really crisp cracker version of this, Bon Appetit just happened to publish this one in their latest issue


6 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated (bagged, shredded ok)
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1 egg, separated
sesame seeds


Preheat oven to 375°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse cheese, butter, flour, salt and cayenne until butter is in tiny bits. Add egg yolk and process until dough forms a ball. Remove dough from processor. Pinch off 1-inch piece of dough and roll into ball with your hands; flatten ball in your palm, then place on a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, leaving about 1 inch of space between wafers on baking sheets.

Beat egg white lightly with a pinch of salt. Brush glaze onto tops of wafers, then sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake 18 to 20 minutes until they smell delicious and are crispy at the edges. (If making ahead, instead of shaping into balls, put the dough on a piece of parchment or waxed paper and gently roll with your hands into a log about 1-1/2 inches in diameter. Pat sesame seeds over the sides and ends. Wrap dough log in plastic and freeze for up to 2 months. To bake, cut into slices about 1/2-inch thick and proceed as above, without the egg white wash.)

Store the baked wafers airtight at room temperature for up to 3 days.