Here’s a random question: Are any of you fans of the show Gilmore Girls? I used to watch the program every week with my mom back when it started in 2000. Back then, we’d eat a big bowl of popcorn while we watched the show, but nowadays when I watch reruns on Netflix, I’ve got a big glass of wine with some jalapeño cheddar crackers. It’s a great show with a great snack to go along with it. Who can resist the witty, fast-paced dialogue of mother-daughter duo Lorelai and Rory Gilmore? Or the sweet, yet tumultuous relationship between Lorelai and the local diner owner, Luke? And what about the charming town of Stars Hollow? Stars Hollow has always been everything I’ve ever wanted when it comes to the dream place to live. For those of you who may not have watched the show, Stars Hollow is the fictional town that the main characters reside in. It’s made to look like a New England-type small town located in Connecticut, about half an hour or so from the real-life town of Hartford. It’s the kind of town where everyone knows everyone; a place where cozy little coffee shops, bookstores, and picturesque inn’s can be found on every corner; a place where every holiday and random event that can be celebrated WILL be celebrated…by the entire community.
While re-watching the show on Netflix, I started to wonder more and more whether there was a real-life version of my favorite fictional town, and if so, where it was. I did a simple Google search and I was amazed at how many people shared my interest. There are pages and pages of people asking which real city was the inspiration behind Stars Hollow, or where one could find a city that’s similar. Answers varied, but most of the cities recommended were cities that were, of course, located in the New England region. I actually haven’t traveled to many of the states and cities located in upper East Coast region, so my little bit of Stars Hollow research really inspired me to make a trip. I thought I’d ask you guys too whether you recommend any particular cities that I must visit for some New England small town charm? Just a couple that have been thrown at me from friends are Kennebunkport, Maine and Woodstock, Vermont. I’d love to get your guys’ suggestions!
In the meantime, I suggest you make these jalapeño cheddar crackers so that you have a snack to munch on while you watch the show too, or just for your next Friday night get-together. These jalapeño cheddar crackers are so marvelous in so many ways. First of all, how cool is it to make your own crackers? I served these jalapeño cheddar crackers to my French friends that visited me a few weeks ago from France, and they positively loved them. One of them told me he could just sit there and devour all the crackers on the plate in one sitting. And the weird thing is, he said he usually doesn’t like cheese! (I know, a French person that doesn’t like cheese? What??) Even though the crackers are loaded with sharp cheddar cheese, they’re also incredibly buttery, which is what makes them so irresistible. The cheese with the butter is what elevates these crackers into being gourmet crackers rather than a boxed cheese snack that lacks depth of flavor. The minced jalapeño is also a splendid way of cutting through the cheesy and buttery flavors of the crackers, giving them a little heat and pizzazz.
I love serving these jalapeño cheddar crackers with cocktails because they’re easy to nibble on, and they’re a wonderful salty alternative to a predictable bowl of nuts. I’m also a big fan of these crackers because the recipe yields a large batch. I usually end up with an extra half of crackers, which I just store in a ziplock bag and freeze until I want to use again. And unlike most items that are frozen, these don’t really require much time to thaw or bake before they’re ready to be enjoyed. I just spread the frozen crackers out on a baking sheet and pop them into an oven to warm up for a few minutes to release their tantalizing scent and flavors. I could imagine these jalapeño cheddar crackers would also go very well with a nice bowl of soup; maybe a nice bowl of New England clam chowder? 😉
- 2 c all-purpose flour
- 1/8 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 14 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cubed
- 5 oz extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- 1 tbsp minced seeded jalapeño pepper
- 1/4 tsp chipotle chili powder
- 3 tbsp ice water
- 1 tbsp egg beaten with 1 milk, for egg wash
- Combine the flour, salt, and baking powder together in a large bowl. Add in the cubed butter and use a pastry blender to cut the butter into the flour. Alternatively, you can do this entire step in a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles course meal.
- Add the grated cheddar, minced jalapeño, and chili powder; mix with a spoon, or pulse in the food processor. Stream in a little bit of ice water, stirring the mixture until it begins to turn into a dough and form into a ball.
- Turn out the dough onto a floured board and roll it into a 14-inch log. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut the log into 3/8 inch thick slices and place on the prepared baking sheet. Brush the crackers with the egg wash before baking them approximately 15 minutes until the crackers are golden brown. Let them cool on a cooling rack until their firm up a bit.
- Serve barely warm.