Fruit and Nut Crackers

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A while back I purchased these beautiful crackers from Whole Foods. I was visiting my daughter at the time and we paired them with cheese that night for a pre-dinner treat.

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The brand is Raincoast, and the crackers are $9.99 for 6 ounces – yes, a bit pricey. They have a few different varieties, but I don’t know how many exactly.
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Once home, I paired the leftover crackers with my faux Boursin this past July. The combination of the fruitiness with the goat cheese was just perfect.

Really, these crackers aren’t extremely sweet, even with the dried fruits. But there is just enough sweetness that they really add something to a cheese pairing of any kind.

Because Whole Foods is a four-hour round trip for me, I decided to make these little guys myself. How hard could it be?!!

This was a first for me – I typically make yeasted breads myself to pair with cheeses, like my fruit and nut bread or olive bread.

But these are simply dense little quick breads, that were then sliced, and toasted. I couldn’t wait! Most of the fun was picking out the fruit and nut combination. I decided on sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, flax seeds, dried plums, dried cranberries, and cocoa nibs.

They turned out fabulously. I had to freeze them so I wouldn’t keep eating them! But you know I’ll be pulling them out of the freezer come the holidays…

Fruit and Nut Crackers

1 cup dried fruits – I used half cranberries and half diced plums
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/3 cup flax seeds
1/3 cup cocoa nibs
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups rice milk or dairy milk
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon molasses
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup rye flour
1 1/2 cups white flour

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Grease 3 little pans – mine were approximately 3 1/2″ by 7 1/2″ bi 2 1/2″ inside diameter.

Combine the first 5 ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
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In a larger bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the rice milk.
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Then add the brown sugar and molasses and whisk well.
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Add the rye flour and whisk to combine.
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Then change to a wooden spoon and add the 1 1/2 cups of white flour. Stir just until combined.
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Add the bowl of fruits, seeds, and nuts, and stir just until even distributed.
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Divide the batter in between the three pans.

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Bake for approximately 25 minutes. They will look like this:
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Let the breads cool completely. Reduce the oven to 300 degrees.

Slice the breads as thinly as possible.
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Then place them on a cookie sheet and toast them in the oven for about 30 minutes.
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They will then look like this.
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Toast the remaining slices, if you can’t do them all at once in the oven. You should end up with approximately 68 crackers.
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Today I served the crackers alongside Cowgirl Creamery’s Red Hawk. It’s a washed rind cows’ milk cheese that’s really soft. It’s not as “pourable” as a French Époisses, but it’s still fabulously soft.
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It was really good with these crackers.

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Faux Boursin

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I used to buy an herbed cheese called Boursin. It’s good. It’s got great herby flavor, and is nice and spreadable on crackers.

Back when I catered, Boursin was prohibitively expensive to include in a cheese platter, being that I had to buy retail. So once when I wanted something similar for a catering gig, I got the idea to duplicate it, with great results.

I can’t tell you how much less expensive it is to make your own “Boursin” because I’ve never calculated it, but even more important than the economic aspect, the taste and texture are much improved.

I wrote down a recipe of what I did once, just so I could share it with my daughters, but the truth is, you really don’t need a recipe. It has a cream cheese base, but you can also add feta or goat cheese for a zingier flavor. The rest is garlic and herbs. For me, I like a mixture of fresh and dried herbs. And I always include parsley.

So see what you think.

Faux Boursin

1 – 8 ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature
6 ounces goat cheese, at room temperature
2 ounces sweet butter, at room temperature
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 – 4″ stem rosemary, leaves removed, finely chopped (optional)
Coarsely ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup fresh, chopped parsley

Place the cream cheese, goat cheese, butter and garlic in the jar of a food processor and process until smooth. It’s important to make sure the garlic is completely blended in.
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Then add the thyme, oregano, rosemary, if you’re using it, and the black pepper and pulse until incorporated. Add the parsley last, and only pulse until is evenly distributed. If you over process the cheese with the parsley, your cheese will become green, which is only good for St. Patrick’s Day.
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Line a small bowl or other mold with plastic wrap.
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Add the cheese and smooth the top. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
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To serve, unmold the cheese by placing it upside down on your serving platter and let it come to room temperature.
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Then remove the plastic and smooth out any wrinkles with a knife blade. This spreadable cheese is really good on bread and plain crackers.


But it’s also good with fun toasts with seeds and dried fruits.

And, as I mentioned above, this faux Boursin is very good as part of a cheese platter, providing a very unique and tasty spreadable soft cheese.

note: I include a half a stick of sweet butter if I’m going to create a mold with the cheese. If you’re going to keep the soft cheese in a serving bowl, you can omit the butter. By the way, one stick of butter is 4 ounces in the U.S., and 1/2 stick of butter equals 2 ounces or 56.7 grams according to this great converter I found!

another note: Think about all of the ways you change change up this recipe using the same base. You can definitely change the herbs – think about making a garlic pepper variety, or one using Herbes de Provence… Or, you can add pesto, or pieces of sun-dried tomato….