Manchego Crackers with Quince, Chorizo and Marcona Almonds
I just served these crackers at two parties last weekend, and they were one of the biggest hits, both nights! And they're SO EASY! I found quince paste (also called membrillo) at Trader Joe's, but you don't necessarily need it-- or the manchego cheese, for that matter. What a great opportunity to use up cheese-ends! How about cheddar, apple butter and spiced pecans? Or parmesan with dates and thinly julienned salami? A crumbly blue cheese with a (good quality) concord grape preserve and rosemary? The cheese-fruit-nut (and possibly cured meat) flavor combo is what we're after here.
For about 20 crackers:
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 ounces manchego cheese, grated
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1/3 cup quince paste
2 teaspoons water
a handful of marcona almonds, finely chopped
2 ounces of Spanish chorizo, finely diced
Pulse butter, cheese, flour, and salt in a food processor until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add heavy cream; pulse until just combined. Shape dough into a log. Wrap in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.
Slice log into individual crackers, 1/4 inch thick on a lightly floured surface. Press your thumb into the top of the crackers to create a well for the quince paste. Set crackers on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, at least 1/2 inch apart. Chill until firm, about 20 minutes.
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Bake until pale golden, 18 to 20 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack. Crackers can be kept up to 3 days in an airtight container.
To serve: Heat crackers briefly (like 5 minutes) in a 350ish oven. Thin quince paste with the water; heat until warm. Spread 1/2 teaspoon warm paste into the "thumbprint" of the crackers, then sprinkle chorizo and almonds on top.