Gluten-Free Cheesy Mini Goldfish Crackers




In another life I was an avid Pepperidge Farm Goldfish muncher.  I’d buy a package and eat some of the whole bag without even noticing.  I tried not to make that a habit, but I really loved those cheesy little fish.

One of my saddest grocery store moments was realizing there were no really good GF cheese crackers.  The stuff out there was loaded with tapioca flour (which I dislike so much it makes my teeth hurt) and x-gums, which neither of us can tolerate.

Even eating a GF cracker topped with a chunk of cheese (rather stinky French cheese) didn’t come close to making up for the loss of being able to munch on those tiny, addicting fishy cheese crackers.

But never say never.

Have I told you how much I love Smitten Kitchen?

One day recently I was checking in at  Smitten Kitchen and it was one of those moments when the stars align.  There at the top of the page were hoards of goldfish – Smitten Kitchen homemade goldfish.  They were whole wheat, not gluten-free, but where there is a craving, there is always a way.

I got busy that same morning.  Turns out the recipe is amazingly cooperative.  You can substitute not only whatever stinky cheeses you like, mix up the GF flours and even over-measure slightly and they will still come out like little bites of cheese cracker heaven.

Right away, I sent for the tiny little copper fish cookie cutter because I am a sucker for those things.  But in the meantime, that didn’t stop me from making rough cuts of tasty cheese crackers.  Sometimes testing recipes has its benefits.

The little fish cookie cutter arrived quickly and I got busy testing once again – after all, you can never test enough when the recipe is that good.

I made so many goldfish crackers that some actually ended up stored in a tin for a week or so.  And guess what?  They age well and tasted even better.  The heat from the cayenne seemed to get bigger and the cheese became subtle and perfect.

We drove a bunch of goldfish with us to Portland when we visited the lemon loving in-laws recently.  We left behind some goldfish for them to enjoy (but don’t think I didn’t have a stash at home waiting).  And guess what?  They are the cheesy goldfish loving in-laws these days.  And these guys are picky.  If it isn’t made with lemon or has a whole jar of mayonnaise in it, then it really isn’t quite good enough.  So that was high praise.

With a food processor and 30 minutes you can soon have an entire cheesy school of goldfish hanging out in your kitchen.  Happy snacking.

Gluten-Free Cheesy Mini Goldfish Crackers

(adapted from Smitten kitchen who adapted them from the Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook)

This is a big-fat doubled recipe because it is just as easy to make more than you think you need.  If you are like me, half the first batch will disappear rather quickly.  If you don’t want to roll them out into tiny crackers all at once, the dough can go in the refrigerator for a few days or in the freezer for longer. If you refrigerate or freeze the dough, bake a few minutes longer to make them crispy.

I love the combination of shredded Asiago and Romano with a chunk of sharp cheddar.  I am not a fan of orange cheese, so I like to buy (white) Vermont Cheddar, as sharp as I can get it.  The cheese is everything so get the best you can buy.  This particular combination tastes exactly like the Parmesan Goldfish (to us).  But I’ve used whatever is in the cheese drawer with great success.  Just use plenty.

Feel free to swap out flours for what you have on hand  – just be sure to use some starch – almost 30% will do and keep to the total weight.   Don’t leave out the onion powder or the cayenne and garlic.  It makes the cracker unbelievably good.  Not very spicy – just helps to enhance the cheese.

The salt is really a personal taste.  Deb from Smitten Kitchen mentioned that some people like more salt.  We’ve tried it both ways and prefer just a pinch.  I think the cheeses I used were plenty heavy on the salt already.

Ingredients

  • 200 grams GF flour (60 g potato starch, 70 grams brown rice flour, 20 grams white rice flour, 50 grams oat flour)
  • 13 ounces sharp stinky cheese, finely grated (9 ounces cheddar, 2 ounces romano, 2 ounces Asiago)
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon each of cayenne and garlic powder
  • pinch salt
  • 2-3 tablespoons cold butter
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk or cream (if needed)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350.  Line baking sheets with parchment.  It will take four baking pans for all of the dough.

Makes about 240-250 little fish crackers.

Weigh cheeses, and cube cheddar if it is a block of cheese.  Take 10 grams of the potato starch (subtract from the total flour) and toss it with the cubed cheeses.  Place in a food processor and pulse until finely grated.

Whisk flours with spices and salt.  Toss in the processor.  Cube butter and toss that in, too.  Pulse a few times until everything is mixed well and the butter is incorporated and dough starts to come together in a ball.

If needed, drop the cream or milk down the chute while the processor is running and keep running and pulsing (that combination seems to mix it well) until it comes together into a ball.

It won’t be a perfect ball, but you will see that it is kind of there.

On a cutting board, smear a little bit (very little) potato starch.  Dump the contents of the processor on the board.  Watch out for the blade!  Now take the mess and press together until it is a fairly smooth dough thing.

You’ll feel it come together.

Now cut in half, and cut those halves in half.  Four pieces.  Smash each piece into disks with your hand and wrap in plastic and refrigerate while you work with one disk.

On the board that is smeared with a little more potato starch, place the dough.  Cover with plastic wrap that is larger than the board.  With a rolling-pin, roll out dough until it is about 1/8 thick or even slightly thinner. Peel off the plastic wrap gently from one corner to the other – sometimes it sticks a bit.

Using the cute fish cutter, start cutting out fish and place them fairly close together on a parchment lined baking sheet.  You can get a ton on one baking sheet – the whole disk of cut-out dough should fit tightly.

Bake at 350 for about 8 minutes and rotate the baking sheet.  Bake about 3-4 minutes more until they look like they’re turning crispy and golden.

They will firm up and get a little more golden so don’t overdo the baking.

If the baked crackers seem a little soft because they came from the refrigerator or freezer, bake as directed and then when they are all finished with their time in hot sauna (that would be the oven), turn the oven off.  Wait a few minutes for the oven to cool somewhat. Place all of the freshly baked fishes on just two baking sheets- but only the ones that are not totally crisp.  Pop into the turned off oven (that is just barely warm) for about 15-30 minutes more until you like how they are doing.  They will crisp up as they cool so keep that in mind.

If you can resist, wait until they’ve cooled enough to eat (yeah, right).  Store in a tin or airtight container.  If you can wait, they taste best almost five days later.  But they sure do taste good right out of the oven, piping hot.

Hello, Gluten-free little cheesy goldfish.  Welcome to the Canteen archives.

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