The food I have most missed as a gluten-free mom is the handy dandy graham cracker. Is there anything more succinct than a graham cracker? It’s part cookie, thereby satisfying the sweet teeth among us, and part cracker: compact, simple, and convenient. With my two eldest children, I knew I could safely leave the house with a box of graham crackers and a container of peanut butter. They would happily scoop up the peanut butter with the perfect little scoopers and not complain of hunger. They always satisfied longer than apples and peanut butter, carrots and hummus, and any other combination of carb and protein I could assemble.
Alas, those days of glory ended with my youngest, she of the gluten-free existence. There was no way I was going to spend four dollars on a box of processed gluten-free graham crackers that didn’t even contain enough servings to satisfy one child, much less three. And then there is the shock that ran through my brain when I finally read the ingredient list on a box of regular graham crackers. Seriously, I was feeding this to my children? This is what they pass out at hospitals to hungry cardiac patients?
Unless you are willing to pay even more than four dollars for the organic version, you might as well be injecting the boxed graham crackers right into your kids’ arteries. Well, that might be a little dramatic. Just a little (I tend to swing that way). Still, I am not keen on feeding my kids hydrogenated fats and am somewhat ashamed that I had not noticed the ingredients a long time ago. I just assumed that something so lovely and simple as a graham cracker had to be made with equally lovely and simple ingredients.
Not so. At least not if you buy the cheap kind. So, we have lived a grahamcrackerless existence. A sad sad grahamcrackerless existence.
I figured I could develop a part cookie/part cracker concoction that would surely cost me less than four dollars for half a snack. I was right. My kids love these things. They are not quite as scoopulous as the boxed version (in regards to peanut butter), as they are a bit less solid, but they are fantastic alone or as a vehicle for various spreads: nut butters, my divine chocolate frosting, fruit spread. You could even make a sweet little fruit pizza with a cracker, a little frosting, and some sliced strawberries or bananas. Oh man. I am so going to do that tomorrow.
Gluten-free Vegan Graham Crackers
1 1/2 c. brown rice flour
1/2 c. white rice flour
1/2 c. almond meal or flax meal (or 1/4 c. each OR, just for kicks, 1/4 c. Hemp Powder and 1/4 c. flax meal)
2 t. cinnamon
1 teaspoon gluten-free baking powder
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 T. soy-free Earth Balance (scooped in 1 T. increments)
5 T. agave
1 t. vanilla
3 T. cold water
Put dry ingredients in a bowl. Cut butter into the dry ingredients with pastry cutter or a butter knife. It will look somewhat like this
Add water, agave and vanilla and then knead the dough to combine. Form a large ball.
Smear a 10 X 13 (ish) baking dish (10 X 10 will yield thinker, more cookie-like crackers; the bigger your pan, the thinner and harder your crackers; 10 X 13 really yields the nicest crackers) with Earth Balance and dust some rice flour or corn meal all over it (I use corn meal because it is cheaper). At this point you have two options:
1. You can flour your work surface and use a floured rolling pin to flatten out the dough. Next, transfer your dough ever so carefully to your baking dish. It will not fit perfectly and there will be cracks in it. So wet your hands with cold water and gently spread the dough to fit the dish. You can also use your wet hands to smooth the dough out. This will make the cookies a bit softer. If you don’t want them to be softer, flour your hands to flatten and smooth.
2. Plop the big ball down into your baking dish and flatten with the palm of your hand. Wet your hands with cold water and gently spread the dough to fit the dish. You can also use your wet hands to smooth the dough out. This will make the cookies a bit softer. If you don’t want them to be softer, flour your hands to flatten and smooth.
As you can see, my 10 X 10 baking dish was otherwise occupied. I used a large cookie sheet and let my daughter do the smoothing (because she said it looked fun). There’s no need for these yummy babies to look perfect. They are scrumptious enough to hold their own.
Next, cut the dough with a sharp knife into 16 crackers. Then fork it. Poke the flattened dough with a fork about 2-4 times per cracker. You can optionally sprinkle with cinnamon.
Bake at 325 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Let cool partially and then separate (you might need a knife to help you). Let cool completely before eating, if you can wait that long. These freeze very well.
In the photo below, I used the hemp/flax meal combination to add extra protein and good fats. I sprinkled it with the cinnamon just in case the hemp flavor came through. It didn’t, but the cinnamon added such a nice touch.