Well, at first glance, unceremoniously turning the GW2 version of a cheese platter (or roll? I’m actually not quite sure what the devs intend this to be…) into a bunch of cheese bisquits might not make a lot of sense, so I’ll give you guys the full scoop behind my choice. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t just cook my way up and down the Tyrian menu, sometimes I let the ingredients listed take me into a different direction, sometimes I somewhat stick to the general idea of the ingame recipe or, if it’s a classic, I try to wow you guys with my mad kitchen skills in the classics department… you get the picture, I think. In this case, it wasn’t the dish itself, or the ingredients that set me off, it was the name of the dish. The simple combination of the words „Cheese“ and „Triangle“ made a long forgotten childhood memory rise to the top when I spotted the ingame recipe in the list of snacks. My grandmother’s infamous cheese crackers. She used a triangular cookie cutter to shape them.
I had totally forgotten about those… These „cookies“, or more accurately, the memory of a mean, mean prank my grandma pulled on me using them as a bait when I was a little kid, were the reason I never nicked cookies again and the reason I absolutely loathed Gruyère cheese until much later.
So this innocent-looking GW2 recipe…
…made me remember, face down and, in the end, eat a childhood demon!
Cookies and other sweet treats used to be a big deal in my grandparents’ house. As much of a big deal as the strict rules as to when and where to actually eat them. The rules concerning little kids in the kitchen, „just checking“ the raw dough up to the point of whole bowls disappearing into … thin air? <insert innocent voice here> were not as strict however. So, after I was, once again, denied a sample of the warm, fresh-out-of-the-oven cookies after one exceptionally fruitful cookie-marathon in my grandma’s kitchen, I hatched a neat plan for a late-night cookie-raid. I closely watched her, neatly packing the different types of cookies in individual jars and boxes and setting them on the highest shelf in her storage closet. Ok, mean, but nothing a footstool and a long-handled soup ladle couldn’t overcome, I thought, and hid said footstool under the kitchen bench for later use. Come to think of it, quite the show of criminal energy for a kid that age… oh well, I turned out just fine, having studied law and all that… Anyways. I had myself tucked into bed and obediently napped for a couple of hours. When I woke up in the middle of the night, I checked the two sets of snoring coming out of my grandparents’ bedroom and went on with my plan. I knew I couldn’t reach the jars in the back without causing mayhem, so I settled on fishing out the jar sitting conveniently close to the edge. I grabbed a few cookies, slid the jar back and did a run-and-hide back to my room. The mission was a success. I pulled the covers over my head and gleefully bit into my glorious bounty… just to spit it out again. What in the world… then I heard a ghostly chuckle outside of my suddenly not-so-comfortable blanket-dome. The ominous voice mumbled something and giggled again, sounding very much like my grandma, disappearing out of my room. Dang. Evidently she had made those vile, salty things after I went to bed and stored the jar up front to prove a point. And there I was, having thought my masterplan grandma-proof. Well played. Lesson learned. Cookies were off-limits unless otherwise instructed and anything cheese or cracker related was high on my shitlist for a very long time.
In the years since then, I’ve actually grown quite fond of Gruyère cheese. When I inherited some of her recipe books and notes, I found the recipe for the crackers and… left it untouched for a while. After giving it some thought, I decided the horrible taste I remembered was probably just the result of a little kid expecting something sweet and ending up with a mouthful of really strong cheese instead – and I gave them a try, set off by the memories the Tyrian snack triggered, ending up with an extra round of applause and requests for more. If you’ve got a taste for cheese and, maybe, a nice glass of wine at hand to go with them, you’ll love these!
Ah, you might have noticed the „crackers“ are looking a bit too thick and/or fluffy to have earned their name… well, they are. This is the result of two people, neither all too familiar with the inner workings of the world of baking, being a little bit overenthusiastic. What happened is simple. We forgot to take the butter out of the fridge early so it could soften. We then went ahead with the recipe anyways, thinking the „soft“ butter was probably just meant to make the kneading process easier. Error, followed by error. Unknowingly, we created a clumsy yet effective form of puff pastry by working layers of cold butter into the dough with a rolling pin. Ah well, hindsight always being 20/20 and all that jazz… I have to say though, after making them both ways, I actually prefer the soft, accidental-puff-pastry ones. They go insanely well with a bowl of salad, by the way… Anyways, I thought you guys might be interested in a second version of them, since salty crackers aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. If you want them fluffy, just use cold butter and be prepared for a bit of a workout coming your way, the butter does put up a fight.
Just one more thing about the soft version: they resisted any and all attempts to have a cookie cutter used on them. To minimize the mess that was starting to take over the kitchen we simply divided the dough into small portions, rolled them into balls and flattened them with our palms before using a rolling pin to even them out.
So, here goes… Grandma’s Gruyère Crackers:
180g Soft Butter – or cold butter for the fluffy version
180g Plain White Flour
180g Gruyère, finely grated
1 Large Egg
A Pinch each of Salt, freshly cracked Black Pepper and Cayenne Pepper
1 Egg Yolk, beaten into an eggwash
20g Gruyère, coarsely grated – this batch is for topping the crackers off, feel free to use more
Smoked Paprika/Pimenton and coarse Sea Salt Flakes
1) Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle in the cheese, season it with the salt, pepper and cayenne and give it a light stir with a fork.
2) Add the egg and flake in the butter. Use a wooden spoon to stir everything until it all forms into one sticky blob.
3) Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface and thoroughly knead it into a smooth – as smooth as it can get with the cheesy bits – and even dough. This is a rather wet dough, so don’t worry too much about it being too sticky. I remembered my grandma making these with the windows of her kitchen open – in the dead of winter, I might add – which, at first, I assumed was due to the rather strong cheese aromas setting up shop in the room. When I was facing my first bowl of something that reminded me more of a bowl of runny porridge than a dough of any kind, I remembered the cold in the kitchen back then, popped the dough in the fridge for a while and turned down the temperature in my kitchen. Mystery of the past and problem at hand solved in one fell swoop.
4) Roll the dough up into a ball, wrap in clingfilm and place it in the fridge for 30-45 mins to rest.
5) Pre-heat your oven to 200°C.
6) After the dough has rested, unwrap it, place it on a floured surface again and roll it down to a thickness of about 3mm with a rolling pin.
7) In order to stick to my grandma’s MO as well as the GW2 Cheese Triangle idea I went with a triangular cookie cutter after our puff-pastry-roll-and-bash fest, but, seeing as we’re talking about cookies here, go wild! If your dough is firm enough you might even be able to shape it into pincurls or pretzels.
8) Set your shaped cookies onto a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Leave about 2cm of space in between the individual pieces.
9) Lightly brush them with the eggwash and pop them into the oven – use the middle rack for this.
10) Bake them at 200°C for 8 mins, then take them out again, just to top them with the coarsely grated Gruyère and a few sprinkles of Pimenton and sea salt flakes. Be quick with this, you don’t want to give them too much time to cool down. Turn down the heat to 180°C while you’re giving them your finishing touch-ups.
11) Return them to the oven for another 3-6 mins – depending on how long they have been outside of the oven – until they are a glossy, golden brown and the cheese on top has melted a bit.
12) Move them onto a cooling rack to cool off completely before storing them in airtight containers – make sure to eat a couple while they’re still warm though~!