I love Graham crackers, especially when they are under a luscious New York style cheese cake or topped with chocolate chips and coconut. I recently wanted to buy a box to have on hand should I get the urge to make one of these treats, when I discovered on the side of a box of Honey Maids, right there in the list of ingredients, the evil, silent killer: partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil. Sure, the Trans Fats content is "0g" under the Nutrition Facts, but that just means it contains less than one half of a gram per serving. That means these graham crackers could contain up to .49 grams of trans fat per serving and still say it contains 0 grams on the nutrition label. What if I decide to have two servings? Honestly, a few crackers in the crust of a cheese cake are probably should not be a health concern considering what's sitting on top of it, but none-the-less, I have principles and I choose not to eat hydrogenated oils partially hydrogenated or not. I left the store Graham-less.
Last night, Lou mentioned he had a craving for Chippy Dippy bars. A simple, quick and easy recipe of chocolate chips and sweetened coconut sprinkled over graham crackers laid out on a backing sheet with sweetened condensed milk drizzled over it, then baked at 350 degrees until slightly browned and gooey. I reminded him I had not purchased the graham crackers as planned. He reminded me I had decided to make the crackers due to my obsession with eating all natural fats. And so I took on the challenge.
The internet is an amazing thing. In the course of an hour, I can research what the heck Graham is, find a recipe for Graham crackers and figure out how to adjust it for the ingredients I have on hand. It turns out these crackers I've refused to buy due to their ingredients were once considered a health food. They also didn't use to contain so much sugar. Back in 1830, Graham, for whom the cracker and the flour was named, was well ahead of his time, preaching (literally-he was Reverand Sylvester Graham) against refined flour.
Interestingly enough, the recipe I found had not a drop of Graham flour in it. It called for a mixture of all-purpose, whole wheat, and rye. Graham flour is a type of whole grain flour containing all of the bran and germ of the wheat. As a nod to Graham's good intentions toward healthy eating (although he sounded pretty nutty) I decided to use all whole wheat flour in place of the three flours called for. More specifically, I used white whole wheat flour, knowing that it could replace the all-purpose flour and easily replace a mixture of all-purpose and whole wheat.
2 cups white whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt (or 1/2 teaspoon table salt)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cubed
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoon molasses (I used black strap)
1/4 cup cold water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In the bowl of a food processor or electric stand mixer, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Add the cold butter and process or mix until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the honey, molasses, water, and vanilla. Mix until the dough comes together in a ball.
Between 2 sheets of waxed paper or plastic wrap, roll the dough 1/2-inch thick. Chill for 1 hour, until firm. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Dust the dough with flour and roll to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut into 2-inch squares. Arrange the crackers on parchment lined cookie sheets. With a toothpick, prick several holes in each cracker. Bake for 15 minutes, or until browned.
Based on "Homemade Graham Crackers Recipe" on About.com