Nothing will beat these savory wafers at cocktail parties and holiday dinners. We promise people will ask for the recipe.
I started making these in Paris with bits of left over shredded cheese from my favorite fromagerie and finished by making them in Connecticut with Cabot’s Seriously Sharp Cheddar from my local supermarket. Whether I serve them with French champagne or American chardonnay, they are great. They are also great alongside soup, leafy salads, and starters like roasted beets in vinaigrette.
They have a break-with-a-crack crispness, the aroma of grilled cheese, the smack of freshly ground black pepper (don’t skimp!) and the raggedy, each-one’s-different look of something that is proudly made by hand. I shape the wafers by rolling each little piece of dough between small pieces of parchment paper until it’s as thin as it can possibly be — so thin that I bake it on the sheet of parchment it was rolled on, because peeling it off borders on the impossible. You can make these aperitif size — about 4 inches long — and get about 14 of them, or you can go larger, making about 5 wafers, each big enough to stand in for the bread you might serve with a salad. — Dorie Greenspan
Makes 5 large wafers or 14 small wafers
½ stick (4 Tbsp; 2 oz; 56 g) unsalted butter, cut into chunks, at room temperature
½ tsp fine sea salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 oz (113 g) sharp cheddar, shredded (1 c)
2 Tbsp white wine or water
¾ c (102 g) all-purpose flour
1½ Tbsp poppy or other seeds
1. Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat it to 350°. If you want to make smaller wafers, cut 15 pieces of parchment paper, each about 5 in by 3 in. For larger wafers, cut 6 pieces of parchment, each about 6 in by 3 in. Have 2 baking sheets at hand.
2. You can make these in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, with a hand mixer, or with a sturdy flexible spatula; if you’re using a mixer, stick to low speed. Beat the butter, salt, and pepper together until smooth. Add the cheese and mix to incorporate it. Pour in the wine or water and stir to blend. Add the flour all at once and work it in until almost incorporated. Add the seeds and mix until you have a smooth dough. (If you’re working with a mixer, give the dough a few last turns with a flexible spatula so you can pick up any dry ingredients lurking in the bottom of the bowl.)
3. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and shape it into a log about 7 inches long — a little longer is fine, but try not to go much shorter. For small wafers, cut the log into ½-in slices; for larger wafers, cut the log into 5 pieces. Shape each piece into a ball, then flatten it into a disk.
4. Lightly flour a piece of parchment, place 1 disk on it, lightly flour the disk, cover it with another piece of paper and roll it as thin as you can. Peel away the top piece of parchment (you’ll use it to roll all of the disks) and place the wafer, still on the bottom piece of paper, on a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough.
5. Bake the wafers for 15 to 20 minutes, rotating the sheets top to bottom and front to back after 10 minutes. The wafers will seethe and heave in the oven. When done, they’ll be golden brown (a little more golden at the edges) and firm to the touch. Remove the baking sheets from the oven, lift the wafers off the paper onto racks and allow them to dry, crisp, and cool before serving.
While these are best shortly after they’re baked, they’ll keep in a covered container overnight, as long as humidity isn’t an issue. If the wafers soften a bit, reheat them in a 350° oven for a couple of minutes, then let cool.
A word on the seeds: I’m partial to poppy seeds with the cheddar, but sesame seeds are nice, as are flax and chia.