You’re driving me crackers, she said to this weather. Luckily this tasty little number is neither season- nor weather-dependent. I found my inspo for this recipe in a fancy store in California (Market Hall in Berkeley, if you must know), and I just might have eaten my weight in them. After “serving” them to guests two nights in a row, while secretly polishing them off on my own in the kitchen, I decided it was time to stop paying this fool’s ransom and knock them off for myself. Armed with only a visual on the seed varietals and my longstanding loyalty to a good cheese crisp, I took it upon myself to try to replicate and I must say I nailed it first try. You’re welcome!! The base recipe for these – when seed-free – reminds me of the signature dish at an early Lidia Bastianich restaurant – Frico. The frico, as a dish, is a melted cheese crisp, usually made with unpasteurized cow’s milk cheese from Friuli called Montasio. At the restaurant, these cheese crisps crowned salads and were often stuffed with potatoes or mushrooms and more, served as an appetizer. How I miss this!
But, oh my, these Cali ones were chock-full of seeds, which provides more crunch and an additional level of nuttiness. Yahoo. As I was testing them, I remembered a frequent guest that I cooked for during my days as the food stylist at The Rosie O’Donnell show. Marjorie Johnson, from Minna-so-TA, dont’cha know. At 4’8”, this feisty redhead, always decked out in a red dress, topped with a red apron, is pure sass. Here she is in 2016 at the Anoka County Fair, where she won 52 ribbons, including 22 blue and the sweepstakes prize for her tea ring. Yes, those are all hers…from that week!
Photo courtesy of Marjorie Johnson, BlueRibbonBaking.com
I met Marjorie before the millennium, and her goal was to have 2000 blue ribbons by the year 2000. She has well over 2500 now and has not slowed down one bit. Her secret, she told me, to beefing up her ribbon count was to enter random categories with less competition……………like crackers. And we’re back. Temporarily. (I must add that is something I was long aware of – don’t take the easiest path using a sweet ingredient in a dessert. Work harder and come up with something that is unexpected.) I haven’t seen Marjorie in a while, but we keep in touch and I have her book. I’ll never forget the segments we did with Alec Baldwin or Paul and Nell Newman after Marjorie won a load of dough from Newman’s Own. It all went to her favorite charity – American Cancer Society in Minnesota – and they in turn crowned her the belle of the ball, tiara and all. I think Alec summed it up best – while on his knees to meet Marjorie eye to eye – “We need more Marjories!!”
Seeded Cheese Crisps
I debated calling this a Cheese Krackle instead of a Cheese Crisp, because the seeds make it so much more than a Crisp. Such decisions!?! Luckily the recipe is much more straightforward than that challenge. I really don’t need to tell you in great detail about this recipe, because once I locked in the ratio of ingredients, it pretty much baked itself. Instead of Montasio, I chose a rosemary Asiago, an Italian cow’s milk gold medal winner at the 2008 World Championship Cheese Contest, and Fontina Fontal, also Italian, and also cow’s milk…from our friends at The Cheese Lady, of course. The Asiago adds a bit of tang and the Fontina is a sublime melting cheese. Keep the cheeses cold until you grate them, as they tend to be a bit softer than many cheeses we often grate. I used the big holes on a box grater.
Add all the seeds to the grated cheese and mix well to combine. You may find that as you dole out the mixture onto a sheet pan that the smaller seeds will settle so be sure to keep mixing as you go.
You will need two or three batches on a half-sheet pan to bake off all the mixture. If you need to re-use a pan for a later batch, let it cool to room temp first so it doesn’t throw off your oven timing. I used two Tablespoons mixture per cracker and flattened them a bit with my fingertips for even cooking. You will need to leave a little space between them, but more for an easy removal than to accommodate massive spreading.
Bake at 375o for 7 – 8 minutes until the crisps are lightly golden. Remove the pans from the oven and let the cheese crisps cool slightly on the sheet pans until they firm up. Then you can transfer quickly to a wire rack using an offset spatula. I would tell you to store them in an airtight container once cooled, but let’s be real – are you going to have any leftovers? Kind of doubt it!!!
These are tasty as a garnish for soups and salads, or as an accoutrement to a cheese or meze spread. Call it a Krackle, call it a Crisp, but definitely call it delicious.
When you give this loaded cheese crisp a whirl, tag me on Instagram and as always, I LOVE to see your comments below.Print
Going Crackers: Best-Ever Cheese Crisp
- Total Time: 20 minutes
- Yield: 15 pieces 1x
This seed-filled cheese crisp is great on top of a soups and salads, or as an accoutrement to a cheese or meze spread. Call it a Krackle, call it a Crisp, but definitely call it delicious. And while you are at it, double up on the recipe. You’re gonna want more.
- 3 ounces grated Asiago, or 1 1/3 cups
- 1 ounce grated Fontina Fontal, or 1/3 cup
- 3 1/2 ounces raw shelled pumpkin seeds, or 2/3 cup
- 1 ounce raw shelled sunflower seeds, or 1/4 cup
- 3 Tablespoons sesame seeds, or 1 ounce
- 1 Tablespoon flax seeds, or 1/2 ounce
- 1 Tablespoon poppy seeds, or 1/3 ounce
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Preheat oven to 375o F. Line two half-sheet pans with parchment paper.
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Mix well. The smaller seeds may settle so be sure to stir as you dole out the mixture.
Divide the mixture into crackers, allowing 2 Tablespoon per cracker. Flatten any mounds to a uniform thickness.
Bake for 7 – 8 minutes until lightly golden. Cool slightly on the sheet pans until they firm up, and then quickly transfer to a wire rack using an offset spatula. Store in an airtight container once cooled.
I used a rosemary Asiago but plain works well too.
Keep the cheeses cold until you grate them, using a box grater. They are a bit soft so they don’t grate as well at room temperature as a harder cheese, like Parmesan.
These are delicious on top of a soup or a salad, or as an accoutrement to a cheese or meze spread, but do note they are not sturdy like a Ritz, so don’t go planning to spread your Cheez Whiz atop. Who are you anyway??:)
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 10 minutes
- Category: cracker
- Method: oven
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© Copyright: KatyKeck.com 2018. All rights reserved.
Yum…Love your selections and diversity.. yet healthy!!!
Thank you!! Got lots to share now that the markets are coming into swing. Summer goodies galore!
Oh my goodness, when I read your post I thought maybe I had written it in my sleep! I live in Berkeley and have had the same experience with that addictive seed and cheese crackle from Market Hall. Rather than mortgage my house to keep buying it I gave it a shot myself before seeing your recipe. I soaked my flax seeds first, then added Parmesan, Asiago, and Pecorino Romano, then mixed in pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, poppy seeds, and salt. Instead of individual crackers I pressed the mixture in a thin layer on a cookie sheet lined with foil. Baked at 375 degrees for about 8-10 minutes until the cheese melted and pumpkin seeds were toasted. Good results, I just broke it up into pieces before storing. No more trips to Market Hall and now I have enough to share. Maybe.
Maybe!! 🙂 Clearly we are sisters from another mister. Great minds think alike. I love the idea of a sheet pan. That would be great for salad toppers, among other things. Also interesting idea about the flax soak. I do that for other flax uses of course but thought it might be too gummy. I’m sure it definitely binds well. Good to know!! Thanks for sharing your technique. Always happy to meet a fellow cheese crisp fiend.
Can’t wait to make these!
Two words: Taste Treats! Please post on Instagram and tag me!!!!!
Katy, you are the BEST writer about food that I’ve ever read! Thanks for a great idea, here!
Too kind Lenann! I do have a passion for this and always nice to hear when a story resonates.
Oh yes! Yummy & healthy!
As always, you nailed it. Must confess, I like the easy peasy part of it too!
Thanks Jody! You should try the shrimp and beans from the previous post – it’s easy peasy too. Or have you tried these prosciutto puffs?
Yummy!! What a brilliant idea! I’m going to definitely make these. Thanks Katy!
Soooooooooooo delish! Thanks Niki!
Thank you for your comments. That was such fun being with
Alec Baldwin and Rosie O’Donnell. i remember well your being my food stylist on Rosie.
The time I did the Bunny rolls you had two bunnies dressed up. It was so
creative and looked so wonderful. I was SO HAPPY to have you as my food stylist.
Marjorie, Great to hear from you! I see you are keeping busy at the fairs this summer. How many blue ribbons?? Miss you. Katy
My sister (also named Katy) made these for our sister, Margaret’s 60th birthday party. We couldn’t stop eating them! Thanks for this superb treat!
Love your email calling them Kecker’s Crackers. Hilarious! Tell Katy I am thrilled she put these to great use! Happy Birthday Margaret. My bro hit that this summer too.
I am so curious if the place you tasted them is the Market Hall Bakery in Berkeley. I bought three boxes of their Seed and Cheese Crackle and could NOT stop eating it!!! I went looking for the recipe and found yours. Cannot wait to try it.
Ha!! That is exactly where it was. And according to Quicken, I went there three times one weekend because I could got get enough. I remember them being very expensive. These are so easy and pretty spot on to the original. I can’t believe you found this recipe, super sleuth. Well done!!
aren’y\t you a gem to reply so quickly! i discovered them in september and my BFF and I tried to replicate from recipes we found online. DId not come close and we thought maybe the cheese combo was wrong. Will try again. I was in SF again last weekend (I live in LA) and bought three boxes–they were $5.50 each. fingers crossed. thanks again. happiest holidays to you!
I remember them as being small containers for $10-12. You got a deal. But add in the flight and it gets pricey:) I think you will find these spot on. I used the rosemary asiago, but plain asiago would work too. That is where the flavor comes from. The fontina will get you the melt/binding factor. They are so crumbly going in the oven you will think it can’t possibly work, then minutes later, poof! Success! Happy Holidays and keep me posted! Fingers crossed for five star review 🙂
We just picked up some Cheese & Seed Crackle at Market Hall, our old stomping grounds in Berkeley last week. Since we now live 100 miles from that amazing food mecca, we immediately knew we would be making them at home. On a whim I tried searching for a recipe, and behold, there you were! Thank you!
Love hearing this. I know exactly how you feel. The trip I discovered them on (I’m in NYC) I kept going back for more. I paid attention to the ingredients then went on a riff from there. Was thrilled when they came out so well, and I love having a cracker that is one-stop shopping – it’s the cheese AND the cracker. Plus great for the gluten-intolerant. Thanks for letting me know and keep me posted when you try the recipe. Katy
Spot on to the original! I moved to the north bay, sadly a long way from Market Hall, so you saved me a lot of time and $$. Thanks!
So happy to hear this! I went several times the first weekend there and kept buying more. I was determined to make something equally delicious and am so glad that you agree! Thanks for letting me know.
Oh my Gosh!!!! I visited Berkley in 2019 and, I too, got addicted to the Market Hall crackle! In fact my friends sent me several packages of crackle from CA to Maine. I noted the ingredients but was too lazy and not all that motivated to try it myself. I have searched for a recipe a few times over the years and it just popped into my head to look today when I found your post three years later! It if fate! I am making these today. Thank you!
That’s about the time I got addicted to them. I wonder if we fought over the last bag on the shelf? So happy you found this recipe. I nailed it. So simple and flawless. The ingredients are on the pricey side so I see why they charge their rates, but isn’t it great to know we don’t have to stand by the mailbox waiting on the kindness of others?? Enjoy.