Friday, September 23, 2011

50 Women Game-Changers (in Food): #16 Maida Heatter - Cheese Pennies

In May '11, Gourmet posted a list of 50 Women Game-Changers (in Food) that runs the gamut from food writers to cookbook authors to television personalities to restauranteurs to chefs to food bloggers.  Some are a given.  Some are controversial.  Speaking the names of some brings fond childhood memories.  Speaking the names of others will make some readers cringe.  And of course, some of our favorites were not even included.  We food-lovers are a passionate bunch of people and whether we agree or disagree, every woman on this list has earned her place for a reason.  Being a woman who is passionate about food (cooking, eating, talking about, writing about, photographing), when I caught wind of Mary from One Perfect Bite's idea of cooking/blogging her way through each of these 50 women...one per week...I knew I wanted to join her.  Many of these women paved the way for us in culinary school, in the kitchen, in cookbooks, in food writing, and on television and I think it is a fabulous way to pay tribute to their efforts.  Some of the women on the list have been tops with me for years.  Some I have heard of (perhaps even seen, read, or cooked from) before.  And there are even a handful that I am not familiar with at all.  I excited to educate myself on each of these women game-changers and hope you look forward to reading along.  We are going in order from 1 to 50.
the "Gourmet" prompt...
16. Maida Heatter- The beloved goddess of apple pie - and coconut layer cake, chocolate Bavarian, lemon squares, cherry cobbler - you name it.  She makes every dessert in the land perfect.
I have had an absolutely maddening week...and in all honesty, I can't form a thought.  Just imagine computer's dying (as in gone!)...school meetings...eye doctors...not enough money (never enough)...stitches in hands...there's more.  In other words, all I can muster up to tell you about Maida is that she is the Queen of Cake!  The Queen of Desserts, even.  I've reviewed a couple of her books recently with some delicious results.  These Cheese Coins/Pennies were excellent, as well.  You can check out the Chocolate Sauerkraut Cake from Maida Heatter's Cakes or Whole Wheat Cinnamon-Nutmeg Cookies from Maida Heatter's Cookies by clicking on the links...or just go straight for the crackers.  Me, since I've already eaten, I'm heading straight for bed.  Forgive me, I hope to have my head on straight soon.
Cheese Pennies 
adapted from Maida Heatter's Cookies
yield: 50-80 coins/crackers

1 c. all-purpose flour
½ tsp. salt
⅛- ½  tsp. cayenne
8 oz. extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded fine
4 oz. unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 Tbs. sesame seeds, toasted
Sift the flour, salt, and cayenne together and set aside.  Beat the butter until fluffy in a mixing bowl, preferably using the paddle attachment.  Add cheese and beat until thoroughly blended.  Gradually add dry ingredients and beat, scraping the sides of the bowl, as needed.  Mix until thoroughly incorporated.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and shape the dough into a log, ~8” long and 1¾” wide.  Wrap in plastic or wax paper and refrigerate for several hours, or up to several days.
Preheat oven to 350° F.   Unwrap the roll of dough and slice into ⅛” to ¼” thick slices and place 1½-2” apart on a cookie sheet (I like to line mine w/ a silpat or parchment).  Generously sprinkle the tops with toasted sesame seeds.  Bake for 12-15 minutes (depending on thickness), until crackers are lightly colored.  They should be crisp, but not over-baked and burnt.

Immediately remove from baking sheets with a thin, metal spatula and place on wire racks to cool.  Serve with cocktails for nibbling or alongside soup and salad.
Maida Heatter
"Happiness is baking cookies. Happiness is giving them away. And serving them, and eating them, talking about them, reading and writing about them, thinking about them, and sharing them with you." ~Maida Heatter
Who is cooking along with these 50 Women Game-Changers?

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