Recipe: Mini cheese muffin crackers + bonus: Pizza-basket bites
This great conversation starter over a glass of wine will make your guests compliment you, without knowing how simple and inexpensive it is to make!
There are all kind of starters to prepare for a drink with your friends and family, but this one is breaking the rules, since it's technically a homemade cracker. Most importantly - it will make you shine brightly on the table as everyone would love it - that much I can guarantee. The recipe, while simple, has been in my family for generations and it stood the test of time with the highest reputation.
Mini cheese muffin crackers on the left and pizza-basket bites on the right
There are two things that you would have to do - dough and filling.
For the dough you'll need:
260 grams of plain white flour
Two tablespoons of soured milk (alternatively greek yogurt will do)
125 grams of butter
One teaspoon of salt
And for the filling you'll need:
200 grams of white brined cheese (alternatively feta cheese will do)
Two eggs (size L is recommended)
The humble and inexpensive list of ingredients
Let's start with the dough. First, get a bowl or a tray (whatever feels more comfortable) and get the flour in it. Then splash the soured milk (greek yogurt) on top of it. Next you have to melt the butter. I say melt, not fry and this is very important! Don't put the heat too high and when you see the bottom of the pan, covered with melted butter - pour that into the flour/yogurt, while leaving the rest in the pan until it melts too. Depending on the size of your pan, you may have to pour it multiple times.
Ready to star mixing into a dough
When all of the butter is melted and its in the mix, put a teaspoon of salt in and start mixing slowly by hand. It's gonna be sticky in the beginning, but it will take a proper dough consistency. Keep mixing the dough for another 5 minutes, then get a knife and cut it in the middle. If the dough starts cracking below the line of incision, then it's ready. If not - keep mixing for another 5 minutes.
See the cracks below the incision? This is what indicates that it's mixed and ready!
Now it's time to make the dough into balls. Slice the dough in four roughly equal pieces, then start chopping by hand dough from those pieces and form (not too tightly) some thumb-sized balls. I say thumb size, because I have super small muffin/tartlet forms and you need the dough, once in the forms to cover the bottom and the walls with a thin layer (thicker to the bottom, of course).
Roughly thumb size will do nicely, but it depends on the size of your own metal forms.
This works with metal forms, it won't happen with paper ones as it's not a liquid and have to be spread by hand. So my thumb-sized dough balls would be between 35 and 40, or around 9-10 balls per dough slice. You can use up to twice bigger forms and up to twice bigger dough balls, that much I've tested and it still works, but don't go overboard with big muffin forms - it won't bake the same and then it won't taste the same.
About that much full before you spread it
Back on-topic, step one is to put a ball in a form. Step two is to use your thumb to spread the dough around. I'm applying absolutely minimal pressure at an angle, towards the bottom angles of the form and I'm rotating the whole form around to spread evenly, instead of squeezing the dough either directly to the bottom or directly to the sides. This is my way to cover the sides well and leave just a bit thicker layer towards the bottom. No hard squeezing, just the absolute minimum pressure! Step-by-step guide in the gallery below (you can do it two-handed, I had to hold the camera):
After you've done that and used the dough, it's time to prepare the filling. Get the cheese in a deeper bowl, get a fork and mash the cheese well. Then crack the eggs on top and mix the whole thing together good while still using the fork. It will mash the cheese to even finer pieces while mixing the eggs. And voila - you have the simplest filling... IN THE WORLD!
Mash that with the fork, it's sufficient to mix it and break the bigger pieces of cheese left.
Get a teaspoon and start filling the forms with the dough inside. The important thing here is not to overfill them, as they would stick to the forms and would be impossible to get out in one piece, since the eggs would expand and put pressure to the dough sides. I'd say 7/8 of the way is good enough to fill every form. Put the forms, in a tray in a 220 degrees Celsius preheated oven. Bake until the sides (dough) turns golden and the filling starts to get brown.
Filled and ready to hit the oven
I know - it looks long and hard, but it takes around 20 minutes to make them and around 15 to bake a full tray. The result is a bite-sized cheesy cracker happiness that would make you and your guests to smile and actually talk about it. The last time I made those and had some to my work place was nearly a year ago and my colleagues are STILL talking about them. They were all gone in 20 minutes back then, even with no drinks...
Ready to get out of the forms
Important note - get them out while they are still HOT! If you let them sitting while they get colder, they'll stick inside the forms and won't come out. Use your thermo-pads or gloves and don't let them stick. Just FYI: my kitchen is super green, that's why my photos have this green tint. Not a kryptonite - I promise! 😂
BONUS: Pizza-basket bites
I was a bit too economical with my dough balls and I've got 5 left, with no filling to put in, so I've decided to improvise. I've mixed ketchup with dried savoury as a base to spread in the dough forms, thinly sliced CHORIZO and topped that with sliced smoked Scamorza cheese.
It's pizza in a small basket! The end result was even more delicious than I've ever hoped for. Not particularly beautiful to look at, but truly a conversation starter! You can garnish with a parsley leaf on-top to give it a more beautiful presentation. Goes well with wine, beer and people (to talk to, not to eat)!
Pizza-basket bites turned out to be one hell of an improvisation ❤️