These cookie-like cocktail crackers are a bit of a tease because, if you’re not expecting hot chiles and sharp cheese, you might think you are going to be biting into a vanilla shortbread.
Which is to say, warn any small children in the vicinity before they are profoundly disappointed. For grown-ups, these are the perfect savory snack to serve with cocktails. They’re pleasantly piquant, deeply buttery, have just the right crunch.
You can serve them at room temperature, but if you really want to spoil your guests, bring them out while they’re still warm from the oven, either freshly baked or briefly reheated.
If you can’t find Comté, substitute Gruyère or even a good extra-sharp cheddar.
Dough: You can freeze the dough, sealed in plastic wrap, for 3 months. Let it come to room temperature for 10 minutes before rolling it out.
Crackers: You can bake them 3 days in advance and store them in an airtight container at room temperature. Before serving, reheat the crackers in a 300°F oven for 5 minutes.
MAKES ABOUT 4 DOZEN CRACKERS
1½ cups (195 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1½ cups (6 ounces) finely grated Comté or Gruyère cheese, divided
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
½ teaspoon hot smoked paprika, plus more for sprinkling
10 tablespoons (1¼ sticks / 141 grams) cold unsalted butter, cubed
Flaky sea salt, to taste
In a food processor, pulse to combine the flour, 1 cup (4 ounces) of the Comté, the cornstarch, sugar, fine sea salt, and paprika. Add the butter and continue to process until the dough forms a ball. Or, combine everything in a large bowl and use a pastry cutter or two knives to cut the butter and cheese into the flour mixture. Be thorough so the dough is mostly smooth (though a few small butter chunks are okay).
Place the dough between two pieces of parchment paper or wax paper and roll it out to ¼-inch thickness. Slide the whole thing onto a baking sheet and chill until firm, 30 minutes.
Heat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Use a 1-inch round cookie cutter to cut the dough into disks, and transfer them to the prepared baking sheets. Reroll the scraps between the parchment paper and cut out more disks.
Sprinkle the crackers with the remaining ½ cup Comté, flaky sea salt, and paprika. Bake until golden, 15 to 18 minutes, rotating the baking sheets halfway through. Serve warm or at room temperature.